Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan.

Stephan: Additional restrictions are aimed at protecting hospital capacity

Following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, the Government of Alberta announced additional public health restrictions (“Restrictions”) aimed at bending down the COVID curve to protect the capacity of Alberta’s hospitals, while also reducing collateral costs.

Restrictions impose costs – a loss of freedom and economic destruction, as well as long-term harms to mental, social and emotional health, including to children and young adults.

Lockdowns are not the better way

Lockdowns inflict greater economic harm on families and individuals in the private sector than those in the public sector, whose salaries or pensions are paid for by taxpayers.

Some of the loudest, sometimes contentious, voices calling for lockdowns will not lose a penny of pay, while those impacted may lose it all.

Lockdowns are destructive to local businesses whose owners and employees have complied with the rules, and some, through no fault of their own, have lost livelihoods prior to Christmas.

Can Alberta Health Services (“AHS”) policies be better?

As protecting hospital capacity is the basis for restrictions, AHS policies impacting hospital capacity need extra scrutiny and accountability, especially in light of increasingly heavy costs of restrictions.

Here is one example – AHS policy can impact hospital capacity if it requires closure of an entire hospital unit if there is a case of COVID discovered in the unit, resulting in empty beds, yet reducing publicly stated hospital capacity. Likewise, collateral policies impacting scope and duration of any such closure also impact hospital capacity.

Given increasing heavy costs of restrictions, AHS policies need extra, objective, and accountable scrutiny for improvement as they impact COVID reporting to the public, and can make big impacts to hospital capacity, including decreasing it.

Moving through restrictions in better ways

As Alberta families and individuals choose in good faith to do small and simple things to reduce COVID, the collective result can be great, the COVID curve bent down.

That was true prior to the Restrictions and it continues to the better way forward.

Restrictions should not be interpreted or used in a way that pits neighbour against neighbour, but rather seeking to act reasonably and respectfully in daily living.

The Christmas message is one of good tidings of great joy, of peace and goodwill towards all.

Many of our family members and neighbours are struggling, ourselves included. Striving to serve our families and neighbours in love during this special season helps us escape feelings of despair, anger, or loneliness, while blessing others who may be struggling with these feelings alongside of us.

Restrictions should not prevent us from serving and loving our neighbours, or from being kind and friendly towards each other, even if we must temporarily adjust our preferred ways of doing so.

Jason Stephan is the MLA for Red Deer-South.

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