MLA Mark Smith. File photo.

MLA Mark Smith. File photo.

MLA Mark Smith: A provincial lockdown will hurt Albertans

‘A provincial lockdown would throw hundreds of thousands of Albertans out of work’

Albertans are facing a critical situation with rising rates of COVID-19 and a quadrupling of outbreaks in continuing care facilities. This health emergency is putting the lives of our most vulnerable and our seniors at risk.

These are our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, and mentors. They’re the people who built Alberta and we must do everything we can to keep them safe while minimizing damage to our broader social health.

There are more than 13,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. If we do not slow the sharp rise in both hospitalizations and ICU admissions, COVID-19 will threaten our ability to deliver health services that Albertans rely on.

This is why our government recently announced targeted measures to protect the lives and livelihoods of Albertans. New restrictions and increased enforcement will reduce spread in targeted communities, protect hospitals, keep schools and businesses open as much as possible, and protect vulnerable Albertans.

This pandemic poses the greatest challenge our province has faced in more than a generation. Every decision we make in responding to it impacts the lives of our friends and neighbours. As a result, Alberta’s government has resisted calls for a blanket lockdown of our society because of the profound damage it would cause, especially for the poor and vulnerable who would be the most affected.

A provincial lockdown would throw hundreds of thousands of Albertans out of work, deepen the mental health and addiction crisis, and pose a potential violation of Albertans’ constitutionally-protected rights and freedoms.

Our approach stands in stark contrast to the economically devastating measures that the NDP is demanding. When asked during an interview with Danielle Smith if all restaurants and bars should be closed, the NDP leader responded saying “yes”.

Alberta’s restaurant sector is one of the largest sources of employment in the province, particularly for women and new Canadians. Alberta’s government does not support the unscientific and unconstitutional demands of Rachel Notley’s NDP to shut down this entire economic sector.

Instead, we focused on targeted measures aimed at places where the data clearly shows COVID-19 was spreading. With adherence to public health guidelines, many services Albertans love and enjoy, including retail, movie theatres, and restaurants, will remain open.

Albertans must act together to protect the vulnerable and stop the spike in COVID cases. By acting now, we can bend the curve of the virus and ensure our health care system has the capacity to protect Albertans.

— Mark Smith, MLA for Drayton Valley – Devon