Alberta mayors demand the government step up with vaccine passports, school masking

A dozen mayors in the Edmonton region are urging the provincial government to be leaders in fighting the surge of COVID-19 cases in Alberta by adopting both a vaccine passport and mandatory masking in schools. 

The municipal leaders, including Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank and St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron, expressed their concerns in a letter sent to Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro. 

While the measures like a provincewide masking mandate are a start, the mayors say the Alberta government needs to do much more, without downloading that responsibility onto municipalities and school boards. 

“Together, we have the most citizens currently in hospital and in intensive care,” the letter says. “These citizens, their loved ones, and a rapidly growing majority of our community members are looking to you to craft public policy that helps protect people, and to demonstrate leadership during these difficult times. 

“Residents should not be expecting municipal councils to assume public health policy development and responsibilities.”

Also signing the letter are the mayors of Beaumont, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Devon, Parkland County, Morinville, Leduc, Sturgeon County and Leduc County.

All these municipalities are in areas represented by UCP MLAs. 

The Alberta government is looking at adding a QR code to online health records that people can print if they want scannable proof of their vaccination status. 

But Premier Jason Kenney has resisted calls to implement rules restricting entry to non-essential businesses, such as restaurants, theatres and gyms, to fully vaccinated Albertans. 

Iveson said the leaders were on a video conference call last week discussing the need for a regional approach. He said everyone was on the same page about how the province has handled the fourth wave of COVID-19. 

Angry at government offloading

“I have never seen that group of people, who are pretty cool set of customers, as angry as I saw them about what’s been happening in Alberta — in the sense, that once again, local governments were going to have to step up into the breach,” he said.

“It should be a wake-up call.” 

Stony Plain Mayor William Choy is also calling on the government to share local COVID-19 data. 

He said political considerations should not guide decisions about COVID-19. 

“It is about what’s best for the public safety of our residents,” he told CBC News. 

“We have got to stop playing politics with the health of all Albertans.”

CBC News is still waiting for a response from the government about the mayors’ letter.

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