'The inevitable next step': Alberta health minister defends COVID-19 policy changes
Alberta's health minister defended a series of changes to the province's COVID-19 response plan, calling the loosening of restrictions "the inevitable next step."
Tyler Shandro spoke to reporters in Edmonton on Thursday, citing vaccination numbers and comparably lower risk of severe outcomes for children who contract COVID-19.
"The data shows that what the vaccines are doing is making it less infectious and less deadly. That's a good thing that allows us to move to that endemic response."
"The pressures on the health system and our concerns about protecting lives are changing."
On Wednesday, the province announced it was shifting its public health response and lifting a number of measures related to quarantine, isolation and masks.
Shandro said the changes were made on the recommendation of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health.
Shandro defended Alberta being the first province to announce such a sizable shift in policy, saying other jurisdictions will soon follow.
"Other provinces know this will be the inevitable next step," he said.
Shandro also said the province's trigger to move towards treating COVID-19 as an endemic was a vaccination rate of 65 per cent of eligible Albertans with a second dose.
The province is nearing that mark with 64.3 per cent of eligible Albertans having had two shots of COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Hinshaw, in her first appearance since June 29, announced the changes on Wednesday.
Starting today, close contacts of COVID-19 cases will no longer be mandated to quarantine, but isolation will still be required for positive cases and people with symptoms.
On Aug. 16, people who test positive for COVID-19 will not be mandated to quarantine anymore, but the province will recommend it.
Albertans with COVID-19 symptoms will not be asked to get tested, but to stay at home until they feel better. And two weeks later, COVID-19 tests will only be available to people who need to go to the hospital or see a physician.
Masks won't be mandatory in public transit, rideshares and taxies starting on Aug. 16, the province announced. Some masking may still be required in hospitals or continuing care facilities.
Hinshaw noted a significant amount of concern in the questions raised by primary care physicians while concluding Wednesday evening’s session.
“I want to acknowledge that any course of action we’ve taken throughout COVID has never been risk-free,” said Hinshaw. “Every course of action we take comes with consequences both positive and negative, and it’s no different with this policy change.”
Intensive care unit doctor Dr. Darren Markland told CTV News Edmonton the changes will especially impact young children.
“It will have repercussions,” said Markland. “Especially in younger kids who now potentially can show up maskless, unvaccinated with symptoms, and there will be no repercussions – just spread.”
Noel Gibney, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta's department of critical care, says the province's plan leaves too many unanswered questions.
"Why? Why are we doing these stupid things? Why are we going against all basic principles of public health?"
"It makes absolutely no medical sense."
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Alberta has spiked sharply in recent weeks after the removal of most health restrictions on July 1.
In previous waves, a rise in both hospitalization and deaths has followed several weeks after an increase in cases.
Dr. Hinshaw had said that pattern may not follow given the protection vaccines afford against severe outcomes.
With files from Diego Romero and Sydney Upright
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
While Canadians didn’t have to wait too long on election night to find out who will lead the next government, there are still several individual seats too close to call and it could take a few days to get clear results with mail-in ballots still to be counted.
While the People's Party of Canada did not manage to gain any seats this federal election, its accruing of the popular vote has experts saying the rise of the far-right populist party cannot be ignored.
Premier Doug Ford welcomed the launch of COVID-19 vaccine certificates in Ontario, saying the system is essential to prevent the province from entering into another lockdown.
Former Liberal candidate dropped from party amid controversy says he'll sit as MP after winning Toronto riding
The former Liberal candidate elected in Spadina- Fort York has confirmed he intends to represent the riding in Ottawa despite calls for him to step aside after a past allegation of sexual assault came to light.
Sherbrooke police is looking for a suspect who allegedly assaulted a nurse in a pharmacy.
FBI asks for the public's help in finding Gabby Petito's fiance as new tip emerges about his previous movements
The FBI is asking for the public's help in finding Gabby Petito's fiance Brian Laundrie after a coroner made an initial determination that Petito died by homicide.
The United Conservative Party says it will be moving up its annual general meeting in 2022 from the fall to the spring, and it's Jason Kenney's idea to do so.
Aissatou Diallo, 44, has been found not guilty on all charges of dangerous driving.
Further deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to Canada are on pause because provinces already have more doses than they can currently use.
Pubs and restaurants say they've been left to take the brunt of the backlash for the province's vaccine passport program, including threats and abuse from would-be guests.
An 18-year-old woman became the youngest Albertan to die of COVID-19, the province announced Wednesday which one Calgary physician said was because of the province's lacklustre COVID-19 policies in schools.
A Saskatchewan doctor is speaking out following Premier Scott Moe's suggestion that medical professionals "really provide some guidance for Saskatchewan people" to help dispel COVID-19 misinformation.
The province of Saskatchewan reported 426 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with 25 per cent of cases reported in children under 12.
The Saskatchewan NDP says it’s time for the province to consider asking the Canadian military for help as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise.
Briercrest College in Caronport reported a total of 71 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed as of Monday, including 62 active.
Steve Murphy, a legendary and trusted voice for news in Atlantic Canada, announced during this evening’s broadcast of CTV NEWS AT SIX his decision to step aside from his role as CTV News Atlantic’s Executive News Editor and Chief Anchor for the flagship news program.
Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 75 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with 27 recoveries, as the number of active cases in the province rises to 557.
Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting 19 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with 29 recoveries, as the number of active cases in the province drops to 127.
A Surrey, B.C., woman whose 10-year-old son contracted COVID-19 says it took days for his classmates' families to be notified by public health.
On the eve of training camp, Canucks general manager Jim Benning said the organization will be fully vaccinated by the time Vancouver opens the regular season on Oct. 13.
The Surrey portion of TransLink's planned SkyTrain extension will not be opening in 2025 as intended, frustrating proponents who have been waiting on the project for years.
Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger gave his first state-of-the-city address Wednesday in more than two years to a virtual crowd over the lunch hour.
A new film called 'Night Raiders' by a Métis-Cree filmmaker is coming to Sudbury’s Cinefest this weekend.
An orthodontist in Timmins and a past president of the Ontario Dental Association says dental care is considered health care, which means dentists will treat anyone in the province regardless of vaccination status.
UPDATED | Recount anticipated after Conservative incumbent Marty Morantz snags re-election by 24 votes
After a tight race in the Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley riding, Marty Morantz of the Conservative Party of Canada snagged re-election with just 24 votes over Liberal candidate Doug Eyolfson.
Manitoba RCMP are searching for information in a violent attack in Norway House after a boy was stabbed in his bed by an unknown person who RCMP said broke into the home.
The race for one Winnipeg riding in the federal election still hasn't come to an end just yet.
The cases were among 759 new cases found in B.C. over the past 24 hours, according to a statement from the provincial Health Ministry.
Three Vancouver Island police departments say the province will no longer pay for their naloxone supplies — a life-saving medication officers use frequently, in the midst of the overdose crisis.
Police say a man who was wanted on several outstanding warrants in Central Saanich and Victoria was arrested Tuesday night.
An Ontario woman whose home was left a mess after a botched driveway sealing job said 'it looked a bomb exploded' on her property.
Doctors are warning that there are very few legitimate medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine—and notes excusing Ontarians from receiving it should be 'vanishingly rare.'
Most of Quebec's politicians say they're ready to work together to legislate a ban on anti-vaccine demonstrations near schools and hospitals, creating heavy fines, but the sole Conservative MNA says she's not convinced.
'Can't take it anymore': Operating-room nurses at Lakeshore Hospital stage sit-in, refusing move to ICU
Operating-room nurses at Lakeshore Hospital staged a sit-in Tuesday morning, saying they’ve been made to work nearly around the clock and want to refuse a move to further skeleton staffing.
CTV News’ decision desk officially announced early Wednesday evening that incumbent Bloc Quebecois MP Yves Perron narrowly defeated Brosseau by 933 votes.
All local roads in Southwest Middlesex are closed to the public and a significant weather event has been declared.
The rain continues to come down in southwestern Ontario and will last until Thursday.
Several households had to be evacuated Wednesday evening after a natural gas leak in an east London neighbourhood.
Proof of vaccination required at some Waterloo Region businesses as Ont. launches certification program
Waterloo Region residents will need to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status to access many non-essential businesses starting Wednesday.
There's growing confusing surrounding Alliance Hockey the Ontario Minor Hockey Association's decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for players, parents, coaches and staff.
Health officials in Waterloo Region reported two COVID-19-related deaths and 18 new cases on Wednesday, as active infections dropped significantly.