Red Deer city Coun. Vesna Higham said many people have been contacting her saying they can’t wear masks for medical reasons and are being turned away from businesses and clinics. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer city Coun. Vesna Higham said many people have been contacting her saying they can’t wear masks for medical reasons and are being turned away from businesses and clinics. (Advocate file photo).

Many people who can’t wear face-coverings for medical reasons are being excluded from businesses, says Red Deer city councillor.

‘Compassion is needed on both sides,’ says Vesna Higham

Diverging opinions were aired again on Red Deer’s mandatory masking bylaw during city council’s debate on extending the rules for another three months.

On Monday, the masking rules that the city had approved on Nov. 30 were up for renewal, as the bylaw is set to end on March 1, according to a council approved sunset clause.

Meanwhile, the provincial masking bylaw that was announced by Premier Jason Kenney on Dec. 8 will still be in effect.

Over the last few months, Coun. Vesna Higham said she’s been contacted by many people who say they have valid health reasons for not wearings face coverings but are still being denied entry into stores — and even health clinics.

Higham understands that private businesses need to protect the health of customers and staff and have the right to refuse anyone service. But she doesn’t think people with respiratory issues, autism, and developmental disabilities should be excluded from stores and clinics just because they can’t wear masks.

They could potentially suffer harm “to their health and well-being” — despite both provincial and municipal masking rules allowing for some medical exceptions to this policy, added Higham.

RELATED:

-City of Red Deer approves mask bylaw

-Masks will be a hot topic

The city’s emergency management and corporate security manager Karen Mann said the province has been encouraging people who can’t wear masks for health reasons to contact businesses/clinics beforehand to learn what options are available.

“We would benefit from some compassion on both sides of the debate,” said Higham.

Councillor Lawrence Lee felt council will be wasting a lot of time and effort bringing its municipal mandatory masking bylaw back for three-month extensions as the pandemic goes on. He instead suggested the municipal masking policy be extended for as long as the province’s masking rules apply, since the provincial rules supersede the municipal bylaw, in any case.

Most other councillors supported the city maintaining its own masking rules and not solely relying on the provincial government to make the right decision in future.

Coun. Frank Wong noted Alberta was the last province in Canada to implement masking-wearing rules because the government had been afraid to step into the fray before Dec. 8.

As a result, “there was an abdication of public health policy,” said Coun. Ken Johnston. He added, “It was like the house was on fire and the provincial fire department wasn’t responding.”

Higham expressed concern about new quicker-spreading virus variants. She noted if the province decided to rescind its masking policy for whatever reason prematurely, she would feel better knowing the municipality still had its own rules in place.

But Coun. Tanya Handley argued that the city’s mask bylaw was “redundant” since health care is the province’s domain.

While city council opted to extend municipal masking rules for transit and civic spaces until June. 1 on Monday, the bylaw extension for mandatory masking in indoor public spaces only got two readings. It must come back to council again later this month for a third reading.

Handley’s objection meant the public must again have time to express opinions on this issue before a final vote is taken.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Red Deer City Council

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

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read