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Ottawa professor disagrees with federal aid to Alberta amid rising COVID-19 cases

By: Serena Sajan, March 1 2021—

Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa, tweeted out last year about how Alberta’s current COVID-19 situation is solely caused by the United Conservative Party’s (UCP) leadership. He expressed that the federal government should not provide Alberta with any assistance in dealing with the pandemic. His reasons include that Alberta is the richest province in Canada and that the provincial government should be accountable for its ineffectiveness in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Perhaps Attaran was slightly too harsh with his words, but he made very strong points that are hard to disagree with. If we were to ask ourselves, has Jason Kenney truly been doing his best to control the COVID-19 outbreak, can we truthfully answer yes? Alberta currently has one of the highest rates of active cases across the country. There also have been anti-mask protests occurring in Calgary and individuals calling the pandemic a conspiracy of the government, which strengthen Attaran’s assertions that Albertans do need to do their part in controlling the outbreak.

However, is it fair to deny Alberta assistance just because citizens are not listening to the advice of healthcare leaders, and Kenney isn’t taking drastic enough measures to control the spread of the virus? I do not believe so. Alberta is in dire need of help to deal with the pressure on its healthcare system. It needs strong leadership that knows exactly what needs to be done despite the whines and complaints of anti-maskers and those ignorant to the effects of COVID-19. Early in Kenney’s premiership, he implemented budget cuts that severely impacted the healthcare system. I hope he now realizes what a grave mistake that was. Health care and education are two aspects of our society that need high funding, especially during times of crisis. Unfortunately, our provincial government seems to only be  concerned with subsidizing oil and gas companies and keeping a sector afloat that had come to a halt temporarily due to the pandemic.

To receive Ottawa’s help, Attaran mentioned that there would be certain conditions that Alberta would need to agree to, such as committing to a complete lockdown and to reducing the high number of infections. That is a fair request since increasing hospitals’ capacity and not taking steps to control the outbreak is counterproductive. Although Attaran’s tweets have been insensitive to the situation around the pandemic, they have some truth to them, which many Albertans are finding bitter. We must do our part to reduce the spread of the virus and protect ourselves and others. It is important not to consume the healthcare system’s limited resources so that healthcare workers can take care of other patients who need the most attention.

Justin Trudeau is willing to set aside disappointments in provincial leadership and focus on his responsibility to all citizens. He has promised to provide federal help to any province that is struggling with COVID-19 outbreaks. Despite the claims that Alberta is a rich province and can fend for itself, the reality is that we need additional support to manage the outbreak.

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.

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