Alberta Premier Jason Kenney refused Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey’s offer to help the Prairie province through the fourth COVID-19 wave as the health-care system teeters on the brink of collapse.
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There are currently 20,513 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta, according to provincial data. Alberta Health said 1,100 people are in hospital with the disease — 263 of whom are in intensive care.
‘The offer still stands’
Furey said Tuesday Kenney asked him to stand down.
“When the Alberta crisis was bubbling, Premier Kenney reached out, and we had a discussion and offered him similar resources to what we provided to Premier [Doug] Ford and Ontario,” he said.
“He was supportive of that and open to it, and we began organizing here on the ground in Newfoundland and Labrador in concert and co-operation with our regional health authorities and were able to put together similar teams to what we did for Ontario.”
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The start date would have been either next week or the week after, Furey said.
“Then last week, Premier Kenney said that the situation had evolved to the point where their predictive modelling would suggest that they wouldn’t require resources at this time,” he said.
“I reassured them that we would be there for him, and the offer still stands, provided our own situation is OK into the future.”
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Kenney said Tuesday discussions with Newfoundland and Labrador are ongoing.
“I was very happy to receive a call from Premier Furey — beginning of September, I believe — just to express solidarity and say Newfoundland would in principle be willing to pitch in like they did for Ontario during the spring wave of this year,” he said.
“We started discussions. We’ve gone back and forth, and those discussions are carrying on today.”
Kenney said he defines maximum ICU capacity as 380 available beds.
“What I indicated to Premier Furey last week was that we were not reaching the upper limit of our health system. We were concerned we might around Sept. 23. I said, based on our early warning system, that worst-case scenario would not happen until the third or fourth week of October,” he said.
“If Newfoundland feels that they can free up some medical personnel to supplement our own front-line workers, we would be delighted to receive that support. In fact, I think they’re most interested in sending some people up to the hospital in Fort McMurray because as Premier Furey said, Fort McMurray is Newfoundland’s second-largest city.”
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Trudeau talks federal supports
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said if Alberta implemented more restrictions, federal programs would kick in.
“If Alberta were to choose to take further steps and go into a lockdown, federal supports for businesses, for individuals would kick back in, and we’d make sure that we were there to support people,” he said.
“So we’re making it easy for provinces to follow the best public health guidance that they possibly have. That’s the role Canadians want to see from their federal government — not picking fights, pointing fingers and laying blame.”
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Trudeau said he has asked his office to reach out to the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan to reiterate the federal government’s support during this “heartbreaking” situation.
“Our officials at multiple levels have been reaching out to Alberta and Saskatchewan to offer any and all help from Canadian Red Cross to military to extra equipment to airlifting in nurses and doctors from other jurisdictions who’ve offered,” he said.
“We are there to support people going through an extremely difficult time in Alberta.”
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