Dozens of protesters gathered outside McDougall Centre in downtown Calgary Friday, opposed to a sweeping elimination of COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta.
The protesters were led by Dr. Joe Vipond, who called on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro, and Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw to resign.
This is in the wake of the province lifting numerous COVID-19 measures, most of which are related to quarantining, masks, and testing. According to new provincial health measures, as of Aug 16, people who contract COVID-19 will no longer need to quarantine. People who think they have COVID-19 will also no longer be able to get tested unless they go to a hospital or see a physician. Many of the mass vaccination locations are being shut down.
Mask restrictions are also being lifted. Public transit, taxies, and rideshares will no longer require masking up. These measures are being eased despite rising COVID cases, primarily among the unvaccinated.
What this means for schools
Protesters at McDougall Centre were particularly irate due to the fact that all these measures are being lifted two weeks before children are supposed to go back to school. Dr. Vipond, who led the rally, denounced the government’s decision.
“Public health has decided not to value the health of the public,” Vipond said.
“Every child under 12 is not vaccinated and this is not influenza. We do not know what exponential growth ripping through our province is going to do to these children. We are doing this two weeks before schools open for fall. What is going on?”
Vipond was joined by dozens of protesters, many with children going back to school. Children under 12 can’t be vaccinated yet, and Vipond said that without tracking COVID cases, schools won’t know whether outbreaks are happening until kids are infected.
Support for students
Medeana Moussa, executive director of Support our Students Alberta, was there representing teachers and parents. She said that the government has left parents with no protection for their kids.
“We join the calls of the Canadian pediatric society, that the recent announcements to remove all restrictions, is premature and very reckless,” Moussa said.
“It was shock and awe when I heard the news. It highlights how Alberta is out of step with the rest of Canada.”
Holly Hoye was one of those who gathered with Vipond and expressed similar concerns. She wasn’t particularly surprised by the province’s decision.
“Given the track record of the government, I wondered if they are making this decision based on ideology and ego as a front to other Canadian provinces, to somehow show we are more aggressive in our reopening plan,” Hoye said.
Counter protesters were present but had little effect on the rally, which marched out of McDougall Centre for a planned demonstration.