The leaders of Alberta’s largest public and private sector associations are calling on the provincial government to implement circuit-breaker measures to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.
In a joint statement to the government, union leaders representing about 350,000 say these measures are necessary because “the epidemic in Alberta is out of control.”
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labor, said, “This is not intimidating on our part, we are in the process of seeing the collapse of our healthcare system and we are also seeing that our schools and workplaces are not safe. ” ,
“We would not be in a position to talk about these drastic measures if this government actually followed the advice of experts and introduced mitigation measures weeks in advance.”
A circuit breaker will temporarily close restaurants, bars, theatres, casinos and gyms, suspend recreational games and send students home to learn online.
As of Tuesday, Alberta had more than 58,000 known cases of COVID-19. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said the province is likely to catch only one out of every 10 cases of COVID-19, meaning the actual case count would be much higher.
McGowan said it is “unusual” for many diverse associations to come together to ask for these measures.
Apart from circuit breakers, unions are also asking for enhanced preventive measures such as better masks, better ventilation and mandating the use of paid sick leave.
“At a time when we are asking people to stay home when they are sick, we have to make it possible to do so without having to pay rent or mortgage or worry about not having food on the table,” McGowan said.
“We are making this call… as a last resort, we would have preferred to keep our economy open, put our children in classrooms, but because this government has dragged its feet and acted on appropriate mitigation measures … we are past the point of no return and we have lost the opportunity to tackle this omicron wave with less severe mitigation measures.”
A statement from Jason Kenny’s press secretary said the government “will continue to follow the science and advice of our public health officials.”
“A circuit-breaker is not on the table and is not being considered,” Justin Bratinga said.