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Canada's health minister asks Alberta for science behind plan to lift COVID rules

Last Updated Aug 5, 2021 at 10:32 am MDT

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu listens during a press conference on COVID-19 in West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu has sent a letter to her Alberta counterpart saying she shares concerns about the province’s plan to lift all of its COVID-19 health restrictions.

In the letter, addressed to Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Hajdu says she agrees with the Canadian Paediatric Society’s description of the move as an “unnecessary and risky gamble.”

She says recent modelling for Alberta forecasts a more serious resurgence in cases fuelled by the Delta variant, and all governments need to take reasonable steps to protect Canadians.


Hajdu says she wants to better understand the rationale and science behind Alberta’s decision.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, offered her rationale in an op-ed shared with media Wednesday.

She apologized for the way she communicated the province’s decision, but said she ultimately decided it was a good time to redirect COVID-19 resources to fighting other health crises because of Alberta’s vaccination rate.

Shandro, along with Premier Jason Kenney, has maintained the province’s plan was based on science.


Several doctors and medical associations have voiced concerns over the recent policy change, spurring several protests in Calgary and Edmonton.

On Friday, the head of the Alberta Medical Association said he has significant concerns with the pace at which the province was dumping COVID-19 protocols.

Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam, said the province’s move would have ripple effects across Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada said people who have COVID-19 should still isolate, regardless of if rules have been lifted.


Last week, the province ended contract tracing and said close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 are not required to isolate.

And starting Aug. 16, those infected will no longer need to quarantine.