Kenney Must Stop Leaving Public Health Enforcement up to Frontline Workers

The UCP Government needs to properly enforce their public health orders and provide clear public education so that workers aren’t left in harm’s way

Edmonton – Recent events in Edmonton where a pub server was hit in the face with a glass, requiring emergency medical attention, merely for trying to remind a customer of a mask bylaw, is an extreme example of the harassment frontline workers are facing trying to keep themselves safe at work while enforcing public health measures.

“This horrible incident showcases the impossible positions the UCP’s public health measures are putting frontline workers in,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “Workers in frontline, public-facing jobs are stressed. They are trying to keep themselves safe at work during a global pandemic, and on top of that stress, many are being left with the responsibility to enforce regularly changing public health orders in their workplace.”

Enforcing these public health measures is entirely different from enforcing other legislation that some frontline workers normally deal with – such as the legal drinking age. In that case employers and their workers are provided with proper training and the public is well educated on the rules. There is no widespread need for public education and the issue has not been unnecessarily politicized to the points of protests. 

“Frontline workers are left in a lose-lose position in terms of their safety. If public health orders are not enforced, they may increase their risk of COVID-19, but by speaking up to enforce the rules themselves they risk facing customer wrath,” said McGowan. “Yet, instead of providing clear communications to the public and clamping down on such behaviour, the Kenney government is pandering to anti-maskers and other groups.”  

The UCP must step up and make it clear that their health measures are important and they will be enforced. To do this they must provide clear education to all Albertans as well as make it clear who is responsible for enforcement measures. Government bodies should be responsible for both education and enforcement, and the government should not be offloading these responsibilities to private businesses and frontline workers. 

“In order for the UCP health measures to be more than mere symbolic gestures, they require proper education and enforcement”, said McGowan. “Without proper enforcement any public health measures are quite meaningless. While there is clearly a role for all Albertans in this process, it is dangerous and irresponsible to leave enforcement solely up to front line workers and businesses.” 

“The Kenney government needs to step up and provide meaningful public education and enforcement for their public health orders, anything less leaves frontline workers at risk,” concluded McGowan.



Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL
[email protected]




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