Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Alberta’s chief medical health officer publicly criticizes staffer who leaked info

EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, dealing with rocketing COVID-19 case numbers, is criticizing a member of her inner circle for leaking confidential information to the media.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw is to speak today on a CBC story tied to anonymous sources and audio recordings of meetings between Hinshaw and her colleagues who were developing recommendations to fight the pandemic.

The story references discussions in which Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney’s government have been at odds on some aspects of policy. It suggests Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s office has taken a direct interest in enforcement of public health orders with an eye to limiting tickets to violators.

Kenney has dismissed the allegations.

In a Tweet, Hinshaw says: “Trust has been broken.”

She goes on to say: “I appreciate the ongoing messages from Albertans and acknowledgment that the actions of a few have violated the trust of many.”

She adds: “I spoke to Jason Kenney and Tyler Shandro this morning to convey my disappointment with the irresponsible actions of one person.”

Hinshaw has found herself at the centre of a political firestorm in the legislature over the best way for Alberta to combat its surging infection rate.

The province, once a national leader in COVID-19 management, has some of the highest daily case counts in Canada. There have been more than 1,000 new cases a day for almost a week.

The NDP Opposition, along with some doctors and infectious disease specialists, has been calling for a short, sharp and sweeping shutdown to reverse the numbers and prevent intensive care beds from being overrun.

Kenney instead brought in new measures this week, which include reduced capacity for most businesses while keeping them open.

The tighter public health orders include a provincewide ban on indoor gatherings in people’s homes. There are tougher restrictions on bars, restaurants and pubs, retailers, casinos, movie houses, hair salons, schools, places of worship backed up by fines of $1,000 to $100,000.

The restrictions are to be reviewed in three weeks.

Kenney has said his goal is to save lives but at the same time keeping critical revenue flowing for workers, business owners and their families.

The New Democrats say the orders, and the absence of a provincial mask mandate, smack of arbitrary political decision-making that will ultimately put public health and the economy in peril.

The NDP has called on Kenney to release all the recommendations Hinshaw has delivered to his cabinet sub-committee to determine to what degree it is following her advice.

Alberta had 355 people in hospital on Wednesday, including 71 in intensive care, and health officials are working to move and reassign patients to free up more ICU beds for COVID-19 cases.

Contact tracing in the province is struggling to keep up with infections. The government says it doesn’t know where 83 per cent of the 13,719 active cases have come from.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

A firetruck sits in front of a home on Harvey Close in Red Deer Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to Red Deer fire

Red Deer firefighters responded to a blaze in the north part of… Continue reading

(Courtesy photo)
Red Deer rental prices drop slightly

Renting an apartment in Red Deer became slightly cheaper last month.… Continue reading

Rylee Trippel was last seen Friday. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing teen

Police are looking for a teen who was last seen in the… Continue reading

The Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60,000 in 2020. (Photo courtesy Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Facebook)
Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60K in 2020

The executive director of the Red Deer Outreach Centre says she is… Continue reading

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

RCMP say missing teen Hope Tivendale has been found. (File photo by Advocate staff)
No foul play suspected after burned body of homeless person found in Vancouver

VANCOUVER — A burned body, believed to be of a homeless person,… Continue reading

The central zone experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, rising from 454 to 508 active cases over the past 24 hours, with 10 people in hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada has approved its rapid COVID-19 test

TORONTO — An Ottawa company says it’s received approval from Health Canada… Continue reading

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole defends decision to back, then oust, Sloan

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he was once willing to… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault pauses as he speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Non-essential travel ban would violate Constitution but courts might allow it: expert

MONTREAL — Fear that Quebecers will catch a new variant of COVID-19… Continue reading

A woman walks outside the Roberta Place Long Term Care home in Barrie, Ont. on Monday, January 18, 2021. The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in Canada has underscored the need for increased public funding for home care, advocates say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
COVID-19 deaths in long-term care reveal need for home supports: advocates

VANCOUVER — The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in… Continue reading

A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, September 22, 2016. China is threatening retaliation against Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a new security law giving Beijing more control over Hong Kong.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Diplomats contact Canadian held for over 2 years in China

BEIJING — Canadian officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig,… Continue reading

Marc Gold (centre) stands with senators André Pratte (left) and Peter Harder before being sworn in during a ceremony in the Senate on Parliament Hill, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Senator urges study of vexing barriers to using secret information in court cases

OTTAWA — A Senate committee should examine the hurdles that make it… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Winnipeg ticket holder wins Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — A ticket holder from Winnipeg won Friday night’s whopping $60… Continue reading

Most Read