Alberta NDP calls for mandatory COVID-19 vaccine rules for non-essential business

Alberta’s Opposition New Democrats are urging Premier Jason Kenney to bring in new rules to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for anyone attending non-essential businesses and mass gatherings.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the province should also return to mandatory masking for anyone entering essential places, including grocery stores.

Read more: Masks will be mandatory in all indoor spaces in Edmonton this Friday

Notley says it’s critical Kenney act to arrest rapidly rising infection rates and to protect hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Kenney’s United Conservative government has said it will not mandate proof of vaccination.

Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and Quebec are phasing in or already have requirements for people to show a vaccine card, online image or smartphone verifications for many activities.

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Premier Jason Kenney makes 1st public appearance in weeks via Facebook Live

Notley says Alberta could do the same with a QR digital code that would be available on smartphones or downloadable online.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine mandates for workers, offices remain popular among Canadians: poll

She says Kenney needs to act or risk being left behind.

“Vaccine verification is coming to Alberta whether Jason Kenney likes it or not,” Notley said in a statement Thursday.

“The UCP must follow other provinces and step up.

“By providing Albertans with easy and secure access to their immunization records while establishing a verification standard for public settings, Albertans who are vaccinated can protect their neighbours and continue to do the things they love to do.”

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Read more: Ontario government to require COVID-19 vaccine certificates for many indoor public settings

Kenney told a Facebook audience Wednesday night that the key to solving COVID-19 is vaccination.

He said his government is considering more incentives to get people vaccinated, but is also considering renewed, targeted health measures, if necessary.

In a news release Thursday afternoon, the province said 70 per cent of eligible Albertans 12 and older are now fully vaccinated with two doses.

“It is up to each and every one of us to do all we can to prevent the spread of this virus,” Kenney said in a news release “Getting vaccinated with two doses is not only the right thing to do, but it protects the people, livelihoods and communities we care about.”

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said two doses of vaccine are a critical step to getting the best protection available against COVID-19.

“Data shows us that the majority of COVID-19 cases in our hospitals and ICUs are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated,” Hinshaw said in a news release. “I continue to encourage Albertans to get their full series of vaccine.”


© 2021 The Canadian Press

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