By Letter to the Editor on November 24, 2020.
As I write this letter it is Sunday Nov. 22, and the people of Alberta have learned of more than 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
I hope by Monday that Premier Jason Kenney will have abandoned his partisan indifference, step up and finally lead. He should not have burdened municipal councils with his responsibility for making decisions about public health. In spite of that, I can only hope that by the time this letter is printed Medicine Hat’s city council will have passed a mask bylaw.
These are the stark realities:
We are a city with the largest percentage of persons over the age of 65 years in the province. Seniors are among the highest COVID risk group. We have all watched as too many of Canada’s seniors have become isolated to their bedrooms in care homes when an outbreak occurs. Yes, masks are inconvenient, but we might all pause for a moment. Consider how minutes feel like hours for our elders in isolation as exhausted staff struggle to provide care.
Small businesses survive and succeed when they have a reliable and predictable economic environment. Had all levels of government intervened together, and earlier, they could have mitigated the impact upon small business owners from the shock of a quick complete lockdown.
Our hospitals and health system run the risk of collapse. Collapse because the system not only needs to serve COVID cases, but when all the beds and ICU are full and there are not enough healthy staff, our entire population is at risk. There will be no other place to send people (a point I think local physician Dr. Dang neglected last week in his letter to Kenney). We are in a marathon at a sprint pace.
The threat of COVID-19 is very real and requires evidence-based decision making. One should never make decisions based on a sample of one, nor a desire to placate. Leadership is about doing the right things and doing them the right way.
The federal government has provided some funding for small businesses and individuals. It is long past time that our provincial government does the same. Doing nothing is acceptance of failure. The government theme song has been ‘we are in this together.’ If we truly are, then those of us who can afford to share need to do so. Tax is not a four-letter word.
It is during such troubling times that we look to our leaders to ‘model the way’ forward. At what point will Mayor Ted Clugston have the fortitude to disagree respectfully, but clearly, with the actions and inaction of our current premier and this government. I fear we are back into the dark state of being the forgotten corner of our province.
The situation reminds me of what I believe to be a Jewish prayer, which I hope all of us might think about:
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now when?