Opinion: The Prairies are showing Canada what a COVID-19 disaster looks like

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It all looked so wonderful in July: freedom from the straitjacket of COVID-19 restrictions. At least that’s how Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his Saskatchewan counterpart Scott Moe were selling it.

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On July 1, Mr. Kenny was the first to rescind the requirement for masks, social distancing and public-gathering barriers, declaring Alberta “open for summer”. On July 11, Mr. Mo followed in his province, prompting his close ally to send out Congratulation message on Twitter. “Once again,” said Mr. Kenny, “the prairie is showing the rest of Canada how it’s done!”

Or not.

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The country’s two prairie provinces have been consumed by an ugly public-health emergency. The provinces account for the highest per capita death rate from COVID-19 in the country, and it’s not even close. And there’s a major reason for that: in their zeal to make noisy people in their provinces (and in their respective parties and parliaments), the premiers seem to ignore several loud warnings about opening things up too quickly. Decided, and everything gone. Shortly after, the delta version arrived and tens of thousands of people were found infected in the two provinces.

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Mr Kenny has been facing sharp criticism over the past few months for his decision-making around the crisis. There are growing demands for a leadership review within his party. His popularity rating is a disappointing 22 percent – the lowest of any provincial leader in the country. The premier had to call on the military for help in overburdened hospitals. Patients have been airlifted to hospitals in other provinces.

Saskatchewan is in even worse shape. On Thanksgiving Monday, the province’s usual supplement of critical care beds was taken over with COVID-19 patients. In the three months since the province reopened, the number of cases has increased by 47 percent. The COVID-19 death rate is 6.62 per 100,000 people – the worst in the country. (Alberta came in second at 4.7 per 100,000; In contrast, Ontario has a rate of 0.67.)

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Like Mr Kenny in Alberta, Moe was reluctant to offer a vaccine passport until he was literally left with no choice, finally announcing such a policy in September. Now Canada’s bread basket is just a basket case.

Mr. Mo’s popularity has also declined. In a new survey by the Angus Reed Institute, Premier’s acceptance numbers fell from 61 percent in the previous survey to 43 percent. Mr. Mo’s Saskatchewan Party just won a majority last year, so he’s probably not too worried, though he’s certainly hoping the public has short memories.

But while it would be easy to blame all this for the lack of political leadership, it is not that easy. near Saskatchewan and Alberta Minimum rate of complete vaccination In any province in the country – about 64 percent each – despite requests from their premiers to regularly vaccinate people. But thanks to the gradual adoption of vaccine passports by governments and other measures designed to curb the spread of the virus, it has not been convinced to do what is necessary – which has produced the bedlam we are now seeing. .

There is something particularly disgusting in all of this. Many of these people have ignored warnings of what could happen to them if they are not vaccinated, and are now getting the disease, ending up in hospital and testing the limits of overcrowded health care systems. are doing.

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When these people decided not to get vaccinated – in most cases, for no good reason – they showed what they really thought about the nurses and doctors who have spent the past year and a half feeling exhausted and stressed out beyond belief. has spent. Those same nurses and doctors now have to save many of these lives – all because they were so selfish that they couldn’t spend five minutes in the clinic to get their first shot, and were so selfish as to take their second shot for another five. could spend.

Now, children, seniors, immunocompromised people and other Canadians who have followed all the rules, postponed medical procedures and endured breakthrough infections – all because some tough guy read somewhere that If he gets vaccinated, he can develop a third eye, and become fatally ill. Instead.

Mr. Kenny was wrong. Not showing Prairie Canada how it’s done. Many people out there have shown the exact opposite. And it’s not a pretty sight to behold.

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