“(We) urge you in the strongest terms possible to call on the federal government to immediately deploy the military, Red Cross and all available medical personnel resources from other provinces to help overwhelmed hospitals in our province.” , we read in the letter dated September 7. 18.
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The document, signed by Heather Smith, President of the United Nurses of Alberta, Mike Parker, President of the Alberta Health Sciences Association, Rory Gill, President of CUPE Alberta and Gil McGowan, President of the Federation Alberta Labor Office, highlights the dire situation facing the province’s health care system.
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“We believe Alberta’s health care system is not just ‘on the verge of collapse’ – we believe it is collapsing in front of our eyes,” the letter read. . “There are no more nurses in our province who can be deployed. There are no more paramedics. There are no more respiratory therapists. There are no more support staff. The tank is empty. The well is dry.
“Our members have been going beyond it for 19 months, but they fear this pandemic wave will be the one that will crush them.”
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Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Kenney announced that his government would implement new COVID-19 measures, including a vaccine passport program, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the health system from being stretched beyond its capacity. .
“We could run out of intensive care staff and beds in the next 10 days,” the prime minister said.
“Unless we slow the transmission (of the virus), especially among unvaccinated Albertans, we just won’t be able to provide adequate care to everyone who becomes ill. “
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The number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions in Alberta has increased dramatically in recent weeks. On Friday afternoon, Alberta Health said the province had 19,201 active cases of the coronavirus and noted that 911 people were in Alberta hospitals with COVID-19, including 215 in intensive care units.
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When asked to comment on the letter, Steve Buick, the press secretary in the office of Minister of Health Tyler Shandro, said that “the military and the Red Cross would have limited capacity to provide clinical resources. “.
“No request has therefore been made to them to date,” he wrote in an email. “If and when their help is needed, for example in providing material or logistical support such as patient transport, we will respond to requests where appropriate. “
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“We’ve never seen anything like it,” McGowan told Global News on Saturday. “Heaven forbids anyone from having a car accident or having a heart attack.
“We decided to write this letter because, frankly, what we’ve heard from our own members who are on the front lines of Wave Four. And what we’re hearing is it’s worse than we’ve ever seen in Alberta.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is currently campaigning for re-election, said this week his government will offer support to Alberta during the crisis, including sending ventilators to the province.
Alberta Health Services President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said this week that as hospitals are overloaded, efforts to increase surge capacity continue. She said she has reached out to her counterparts in other provinces to see if they are able to accommodate Alberta patients or send staff to Alberta if the situation deteriorates to the point where such action is needed.
Since Kenney’s press conference on Wednesday, BC Premier John Horgan has said his province will do everything possible to help Alberta, but has not offered hospital beds or staff. .
Premier Kelvin Goertzen has said Manitoba will send pharmaceuticals to Alberta to help deal with the COVID-19 situation.
Yiu confirmed Thursday that Ontario has also offered to help Alberta weather its public health storm.
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In their letter on Saturday, union leaders said they believed it was Kenney’s “constitutional role as prime minister” to formally seek help from the federal government.
“They cannot act unless you ask them to act,” the letter read.
“So please, on behalf of our beleaguered members on the front lines of this crisis, and on behalf of all Albertans, we formally ask you to seek help from the federal government. “
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The letter also notes that earlier this year, military medical units were deployed to hospitals across Ontario as they struggled to track patients during the third wave of the pandemic.
“The hour is late and the situation is grim,” reads the letter from the union leaders. “Federal deployment of resources alone will not be enough to get us through. But it will help.
“Ultimately, we need more aggressive action from your government to reduce the viral transmission that is causing this crisis. “
READ MORE: Alberta sees spike in COVID-19 vaccinations, 2,020 new cases confirmed Friday
Alberta Health reported on Friday that the province had identified 2,020 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The ministry said the number of active cases in Alberta was 19,201 people as of Friday afternoon.
Of these, 911 were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 215 were in intensive care units because of the illness.
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