Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier François Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Sept. 18, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Alberta’s decision to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions after resisting that option for weeks was driven by projections that the province’s intensive care units would be so overwhelmed that doctors could be forced to start rationing care within a month.

Premier Jason Kenney laid out that dire scenario on Wednesday as he explained why his government is imposing a suite of new public health measures, including moving K-12 classes online, shutting down restaurant patios and forcing non-essential businesses that have three or more COVID-19 infections to close.

Mr. Kenney asked people who are opposed to public-health restrictions — a group that includes members of his own United Conservative Party caucus who have publicly criticized such measures — to think about the prospect of someone they cared about being denied care because the hospitals cannot cope.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re not telling people this to create unnecessary fear,” Mr. Kenney said Wednesday, after using a televised address to announce the new rules the night before.

“We’re just trying to be straight up with Albertans about where we are.”

Alberta has the highest COVID-19 rates in North America and is among the few provinces in Canada where the number of daily infections is increasing. Alberta has about twice the active infections per capita as Ontario.

There were 146 COVID-19 patients in the province’s ICUs as of Wednesday, a slightly lower number than in recent days, but still about twice as many as a month ago. Mr. Kenney said there are also 60 non-COVID patients in ICUs, which together puts the province above the capacity it had before the pandemic.

Health officials say they can expand the province’s capacity to 425 ICU beds, but that would require the cancellation of most non-essential surgeries and medical procedures. Alberta Health Services released a triage document last week that would guide decisions to ration care by focusing on patients with the highest likelihood to survive the following year.

Mr. Kenney’s government had closed indoor dining at restaurants and imposed a number of other restrictions a month ago, but had resisted further restrictions even as infections exploded. The new measures are the most severe the province has seen since the first wave a year ago.

The Premier has chided people who continue to defy the public-health restrictions, including protesters at anti-lockdown rallies that have been a regular feature of some Alberta cities and a rodeo, held last weekend, that drew large crowds to a site near Bowden in flagrant violation of the ban on large outdoor events.

Story continues below advertisement

The opposition he has faced within the UCP caucus includes more than a dozen MLAs publicly criticizing the province’s public-health orders last April.

Mr. Kenney has played down that opposition, saying it amounted to healthy debate. He said on Wednesday that politics was not driving his government’s response to the pandemic.

“We do, however, obviously have to be mindful of the broader context of public opinion in Alberta, about people’s willingness to comply with the rules,” he said.

“As I’ve said repeatedly, there’s no point in adopting a policy that will only invite widespread non-compliance.”

One of the signees of a letter protesting restrictions last month – UCP MLA Nate Horner – said understands there’s a risk that Alberta hospitals become overwhelmed.

“I know we all need to pull together,” Mr. Horner, the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, said Wednesday. “I don’t want to do anything other than support the decisions that have been made. That being said, we still do have very rigorous debate within caucus.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Horner said he signed the original letter to let his constituents know he was advocating for a regional approach to restrictions in caucus discussions.

“I represent a very rural riding that over the last 14 months has had periods when there’s been very little COVID in vast areas,” he said. “Skip the Dishes and DoorDash aren’t a thing here.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the province won't proceed with further easing of community health restrictions on COVID-19 even though hospitalizations are under the benchmark 300 figure. Shandro says cases and hospitalizations are trending up and it would not be safe to further reopen the economy, which would include allowing indoor gatherings. The Canadian Press

Mr. Horner noted he fielded about 70 calls from unhappy constituents Wednesday – many who are facing the loss of work and business income, are concerned about schools being closed for two weeks, and don’t understand why the federal government hasn’t implemented stricter border controls.

“A lot of them understand the severity of the issue. They’ve seen the cases rise – they know the situation has changed,” he said.

Other MLAs who signed last month’s letter, such as Mark Smith in Drayton Valley-Devon, Jason Stephan of Red Deer-South, and Miranda Rosin of Banff-Kananaskis, posted the live feed of Mr. Kenney announcing new public health measures on their Facebook pages – without comment.

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies