Letter: Alberta’s decision to lift restrictions was reckless

Over the past month the Alberta government has announced the ending of nearly every COVID-19 public health measure including the so called TTI measures (test,trace and isolate). This plan recklessly endangers the lives of 660,000 children in Alberta who are unvaccinated.

Red Deer’s Anne Irwin, a retired anthropologist who taught at the University of Calgary, has been vocal on social media and on the city streets protesting against the lifting of these measures.

Don’t get me wrong, I love freedom. I am an Albertan and view any intrusion by government on my own lawful affairs as peculiar and odious. I was also overjoyed to get vaccinated and get back to a bit more of a ‘normal’ as is my right.

But this last move seems clearly to go too far. As Irwin and others who have been protesting recently would point out, we need to stop the plan to end TTI in Alberta immediately.

Today Irwin has become a protester because the province is implementing a foolish plan.

Indeed, the word foolish is almost too kind. Recklessly dangerous, as it plays fast and loose with the lives of our children, might be a better description.

Like me, Irwin tended to stay largely silent on social media. But no longer. Now she finds herself at the epicentre of a protest movement fighting for the safety of her grandkids. And hearing her voice has convinced me that I too must not continue to remain silent.

If Irwin’s grandkids get the sniffles, she wants their parents’ to be able to see if they have COVID-19, obviously. Because she doesn’t want everyone in their class to contract COVID-19.

I’m not entirely sure why chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw got up in front of a camera and said that testing would no longer be required. Maybe I just did not understand how the process will work in September. I truly hope it is just a big misunderstanding. Shutting testing centres down seems glaringly premature. What is to stop an entire school of unvaccinated children from getting the virus? Presumably they would get tested before going to the ICU, knock on wood. But we need more than superstition, we need the ability to test our children for a deadly virus. Even if COVID-19 is here to stay and something we need to live with, we still need to take reasonable measures to prevent this worst-case scenario. Obviously.

The conversation should be about the safety of our unvaccinated children who go back to school in little under a month. Where they will assuredly sneeze on one another. Kids are kind of gross that way, but we still don’t want them to all get COVID-19. Without the ability to get them tested for the virus, their parents lose the ability to make pragmatic decisions about sending them to school. Irwin is right. Silence on this issue cannot be tolerated. This policy must change before September.

Local historian and veteran Ryan Flavelle lives in Sylvan Lake.

Note: This letter was written and submitted before the province’s announcement on Friday to keep COVID-19 measures in place for six more weeks.