Don’t count on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s optimistic predictions that all Canadians could be vaccinated by the end of the summer, says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
Alberta Health Services says Albertans can expect the rollout of vaccines to the general public to begin in September.
“We are basing our planning on the reality that the federal government has not kept its commitments to date,” said Kenney at a Calgary news conference to announce more funding for continuing care.
“They have missed every single timeline for the delivery of doses by order of magnitude.”
Kenney said Alberta is ready to inoculate hundreds of thousands of more people but the federal government has consistently failed to provide enough vaccines, often falling well short of its allotment schedule.
“Right now, we’re caught in a race between vaccines and variants. We need these vaccines.”
On the weekend, Trudeau appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and acknowledged Canada’s vaccination rollout has been slow.
However, as the number of vaccines coming into Canada increases, he expected the vaccination pace to increase dramatically.
“We are going to have everyone vaccinated probably by the end of the summer,” he said on Sunday.
Kenney announced that the government is boosting continuing care by $200 million, bringing the total investment in the latest budget to $3.5 billion. About $1.6 billion is for supportive living, $1.2 billion for long-term care and $736 million will go towards home care.
The government has also earmarked $500 million in capital spending over three years, including $246 million to finish the Gene Zwozdesky Centre in Edmonton and $115 million to complete the Bridgeland Riverside Continuing Care Centre in Calgary.
Another $154 million will be used to upgrade or develop new long-term care and supportive living spaces in priority and Indigenous communities.
“Covid has taken too high a toll on seniors, and we need to to press ahead on protecting seniors,” said Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
The Alberta Continuing Care Association, which represents 13,000 Albertans living in independent public, private. faith-based and not-for-profit owners and operators of seniors facilities, applauded the additional funding.
“Our membership is pleased with this investment,” said Salimah Walji-Shivji, chair of the association.
“This funding is urgently needed with the number of seniors in the province set to more than double over the next 15 years.”
The Alberta government said the new funding will help continue the shift from hospital to community-based home and hospice care and will help seniors stay in their homes as they age.