When to review Alberta's COVID-19 response? Opposition and government differ on timeline
The government and opposition exchanged opinions on when a review into the pandemic response should take place during the first day of the Alberta legislature’s fall sitting.
The NDP wanted to create a non-partisan committee on Monday with representation from all caucuses to publically hold hearings to gather evidence, ensure public servants and public staff testified, and receive input from public health experts and workers.
Christina Gray, opposition house leader, introduced the request and said a committee would allow for a full inquiry into the pandemic and government responses.
“(This) would provide answers and lessons learned across the province, to bring justice and transparency for all Albertans,” Gray said.
In the Official Opposition’s view, hosting a special COVID-19 debate or giving time during question period to address concerns with the pandemic’s handling is not enough. For Gray, they only allow the government to present “canned rhetoric” and “not real answers.”
“Debate in this house, should not, and does not, and cannot be a replacement for the accountability and transparency a committee review process would be able to provide,” Gray said.
The request, requiring unanimous consent, failed.
Jason Nixon, government house leader, said the legislature needs to have a conversation about COVID-19, but called the committee a “blind partisan” maneuver.
“What they are asking for is extremely unreasonable in the middle of the fourth wave,” Nixon said.
In his view, the focus at this time should remain on dealing with the pandemic and a committee would take health care professionals' time and effort away from helping Albertans.
Nixon reassured the opposition that the premier and health minister have “committed” to a “significant review” of the entire pandemic, with details to be released at a later time.
“There will be a full review,” the government house leader said. “Albertans deserve that, members on my side of the aisle want to see that happen, and we will ensure that that happens.
“But not in an NDP partisan way,” he added, “that will take resources away from people right now that need it inside hospitals.”