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Reader question: Public-health measures

Candidates in St. Albert's municipal election weigh in on whether they would support the city taking additional public-health measures beyond those chosen by the province to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gazette reader David Clayton asks: Would you support the city taking anti-COVID-19 measures that go beyond those imposed by the provincial government?

All St. Albert municipal candidates had 60 words to answer the question. 

Mayoral candidates:

Angela Wood: Matters of public health belong under the jurisdiction of the provincial government. In order for council or the city to go above and beyond provincial mandates, we would require the expertise to justify additional measures.

Cathy Heron: I have been clear that we look to the health experts at the province (they have the jurisdiction over health) to make these decisions. I have started collecting information from chief medical health officers in other provinces as the Government of Alberta is slow to implement. If the province doesn’t step up in time, I am willing to bring in health measures that will protect my community. 

David Letourneau: I believe municipal government has a responsibility to fill the gap left in the provincial government’s absence. I would like to see something similar to the Calgary bylaw requiring mandatory participation for any businesses on the restriction exemption program eligibility list. This takes the burden of enforcement away from business and puts it on the municipal government, thus supporting businesses. 

Bob Russell: Short answer is yes. It behooves us as a council to seek a briefing from a health-care professional to see what other steps we could take to defeat this pandemic.

Council candidates:

Sheena Hughes: Politicians need to stop playing doctor without a medical licence and without data to support their decisions. It has created inconsistency and confusion.

Leonard Wilkins: No, I would not support going beyond those imposed by the provincial government. While the provincial government took too long to put the current measures in place, I believe they are now sufficient if followed by everyone. I see no need to go beyond the ones put in place now by the province recently. 

Wes Brodhead: It is my hope that the provincial government steps to the plate and leads this province through this pandemic in an appropriate manner. It is at the provincial level that health matters are regulated. I would have to see a regionally consistent response beyond any provincial mandate before considering any additional anti-COVID measures.

Shelley Biermanski: No, the city does not have access to all data.

Wally Popik: If St. Albert was to take measures that go beyond those imposed by the provincial government, I would need to be convinced that this approach made sense and wasn't just a knee-jerk reaction. Moving to another lockdown would be something I would have trouble supporting without a lot of convincing. In the end, the health and safety of the people would be what really matters.

Jennifer Cote: The city does not have in-house public-health expertise, so we must navigate any municipal COVID-19 measures carefully. Though the Municipal Government Act does potentially grant some authority to develop measures, they should be developed within existing provincial health policy and guidelines. Local initiatives that are implemented through community buy-in versus municipal enforcement can go a long way.

Kevan Jess: Yes. While municipal governments would not be in this position had the UCP government met its [responsibility], I think that passing an additional bylaw similar to that put in place by Calgary both removes uncertainty and gives municipal enforcement the jurisdiction to enforce these rules for public safety.

Louis Sobolewski: Before I could answer that question, I need to know what the additional anti-COVID measures are, why hasn't the province implemented them, how long will they last, how restrictive will they be, what would be the citiy's role in enforcing them, will there be a cost to implement, and what will be the desired outcome of these measures?

Rachel Jones: Since its beginning, I’ve seen that St. Albertans are in favour of health measures that will protect our community and get us past this virus. We have been diligent in following Alberta Health Services' measures to date, and I feel we should maintain course and continue to follow the guidance of our health officials. Unless necessary, I would continue to stay the course. 

Gilbert Cantin: No, the provincial government is the best to co-ordinate all measures because to beat COVID. We need a co-ordinated effort across the province, not just in St. Albert.  

Isadore Stoyko: No I would not — there is already too much confusion, and this just would be one more thing that we would not be able to enforce. The provincial health body is the one that sets the standard and we fall under their jurisdiction. 

Sandy Clark: If the provincial government was not addressing anti-COVID measures and, if science and health care was dictating further measures because of increased COVID spread, I would need to see the science and rationale behind those further measures before I could support implementing further restrictions.

Joseph Trapani: COVID-19 has several problems, we know by fact that it is a deadly virus, but there is too much information from the government, the press, and even the public, and this leads to confusion. I would like to see council put out a fact document on why we need to be vaccinated, wearing masks, and to follow provincial and federal guidelines.

Ken MacKay: The city has consistently followed the chief medical officer of health's recommendations and orders. I would consider additional measures only in response to some unanticipated or specific threat to our community. Any additional measures should also be regional. I do support the right for businesses, schools, or other agencies to enact their own additional measures.

Mike Ferguson: No.

Natalie Joly: Council has supported measures that exceeded those mandated by the province, and I would support additional measures again if warranted. My preference is for health decisions to remain with the province, but the support from and collaboration with residents, businesses, and regional partners has been invaluable as we navigate pandemic response during times when provincial action is delayed. 

Ross Guffei: This is the third time the candidates have been asked questions about COVID-19. As I have indicated in previous responses, this is an issue that is beyond my current level of expertise and as such I am not able to provide a response at this time. If I get elected and this matter becomes critical to the residents of St. Albert, I will vote based on what is best for the greater good.

Mike Killick: No. St. Albert is interconnected and interdependent with our surrounding municipalities (jobs, education, retail, hospitality, recreation, transportation etc.) separate rules or regulations would be detrimental to St. Albert. 

Shawn LeMay: Yes, if carefully researched, consistent with expert (health) input and determined to be in the best interest of St. Albertans. We know one of the biggest by-products to this pandemic has been the impact on our collective/individual mental health — much of it driven by confusion, inconsistency, and misinformation.

Donna Kawahara: Taking measures beyond what the provincial government imposes is dependent upon the situation at the time. Council would need to consult with the regional medical advisor before making any decisions. Decisions would also need to be driven by what is in the best interest of St. Albertans as a whole.

Rachel Narvey

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