Shandro accuses federal health minister of ‘playing politics’ after letter expressing concern over Alberta’s end to health measures

CALGARY — Federal health minister Patty Hajdu is adding her name to the growing list of health officials around the world concerned with health measures, meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, coming to an end in Alberta on August 16th.

In a letter addressed to Alberta health minister Tyler Shandro, Hadju asked for more clarification to better understand the rationale behind the decision.

That prompted a reaction from Alberta health minister Tyler Shandro via social media Thursday where he defended Dr. Hinshaw and questioned Hadju’s motivations for writing the letter.

In a series of tweets, Shandro said “Dr Hinshaw and her team’s sensible recommendations on moving to the next phase of COVID-19 adaptation are in line with the science”. He also criticized Hajdu for playing politics and failing to send a letter to Saskatchewan when both provinces have similar approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 TESTING SET TO END

In less than two weeks, most testing, tracing and isolating will end. Masks will also no longer be required on public transit and in schools.

Hajdu said she agrees with the Canadian Paediatric Society, calling the decision an “unnecessary and risky gamble” that could “worsen the spread of the virus and put children at risk.”

Furthermore, she said the most recent modelling for Alberta shows “a potentially more serious resurgence in cases in the coming weeks and months fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta variant”.

Alberta announced around 400 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the highest total since the start of June.

Employment Minister Patty Hadju

DOCTORS SOUND ALARMS

Doctors have been sounding the alarm over the province’s decision, wanting it repealed as Alberta enters a fourth wave.

“We are setting ourselves up for a very significant outbreak in September into October and none of this needs to happen,” said Dr. Noel Gibney, Co-chair on the Strategic COVID-19 Pandemic Committee.

Its members also wrote a letter to Premier Jason Kenney, calling for public health measures to stay in place until vaccines are available for children under 12, at least 85 per cent of the province has been fully vaccinated and when Health Canada declares the pandemic to be over.

TRAVELLERS MIXED ON LIFTING RESTRICTIONS

Cases continue to surge in Alberta, doubling in the last week, but travellers CTV News spoke to Thursday were mixed on the lifting of restrictions.

“I’ve had my second shot,” said Rusty Robinson.

“It’s time to start living. We can’t stretch this out much longer. It’s time to start living.”

Reuben Sweeney from Cold Lake also said he’s not concerned.

“I don’t have a whole lot of thoughts on that but to me I’m not worried about it,” Sweeney said.

 Dr. Deena Hinshaw already apologized in an op-ed for causing confusion but continues to defend the province’s decision.

“Again, as I said earlier, we know that case, identification, contact tracing, has only identified a small proportion of our overall cases,” she said.

“We’re not eliminating COVID-19, we’re not going to get rid of it. So how do we continue to respect it to mitigate the worst outcomes, and again, to make sure that people have access to vaccines and who know that this is our best path forward?”

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