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Barnes praises local decision making during pandemic, NDP health critic thinks more needs to be done

Posted on November 24, 2020 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Justin Seward

Commentator/Courier

Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes said the UCP government has done ‘A lot’ to help in preventing the spread COVID-19.
The province saw another record COVID-19 case day on Nov. 20 as Alberta had a confirmed 1,155 active cases.
Cypress County has 38 active cases and Medicine Hat went up to 69 active cases.
“As a Conservative, I believe in individual responsibility and I believe in taking care of ourselves and our community,” said Barnes.
“I will say the government has got a lot of it right at this point, especially when you consider the hospitals weren’t overwhelmed way back in March or April as feared. Secondly, I really like the local decision making (and) the fact Medicine Hat and the southeast corner have had a lot fewer cases (and) has allowed to staying a little bit more open. I think anytime the government can exercise any local decision making, the closer the grass roots, the close the point of contact, the better.
Barnes did not hesitate to say there is a lot of misinformation out there.
“I think there is a huge amount of misinformation out there,” said Barnes.
“I think a lot of the information comes from Ottawa and the World Health Organization. There’s a healthy level of mistrust here in the southeast corner of Alberta. That’s why it’s crucial that the people in Cypress County, the people in Medicine Hat, get to be the first and foremost line of defense and the first and foremost decision makers.”
Barnes has been hearing about split and contrasting ideas on the local front.
“There’s of course a healthy amount of fear,” he said.
“There’s a healthy amount of people that want to keep the economy and keep society as open as possible… One of the factors is the big government lost a lot of trust when the numbers and modelling were so wrong.”
The one area that the government has been pretty good is focusing on the vulnerable and giving companies and families resources, says Barnes.
Barnes believes the only way to get out of this mess is having free enterprise and fully developing the province’s agriculture and oil and gas industry.
Alberta NDP health critic David Shepherd said in a statement to the Cypress Courier that the Jason Kenney government is “sleep walking through the pandemic.”
“ He has failed to take action to protect families and businesses from COVID-19,” said Shepherd.
“He has waged war on Alberta doctors throughout the pandemic. He is laying off hundreds of frontline nurses and 11,000 other frontline hospital workers. He has failed to provide a provincial staffing strategy for seniors’ facilities” and he has failed to protect small businesses.
Shepherd has concerns over Alberta being the only province without a targeted mask policy.
“ Even as daily new cases hit more than 1,100, Jason Kenney continues to pander to the anti-mask conspiracy theorists in his caucus. Alberta is the only province in Canada without a targeted mask policy, and UCP MLAs won’t even commit to wearing masks themselves,” said Shepherd.
“We have made more than a dozen recommendations of non-restrictive actions that could help prevent a second lockdown. Jason Kenney has done nothing, and Alberta is running out of time.”

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