Statement from Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan on Premier Kenney's lack of leadership during the COVID pandemic

Statement from Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, Alberta’s largest labour organization with affiliate unions spanning the province and its industries with more than 170,000 workers.

EDMONTON - “Yesterday, Premier Jason Kenney announced another public health emergency with new and renewed measures to deal with rising COVID-19 cases and an enormous strain on our public health care system to the point where it’s on the brink of collapse.

Like many Albertans, I think of the families of the thousands of people who have died from COVID and the people who have suffered as a result of the cancellation of surgeries over the past month. My heart goes out to them.

Alberta needed leadership throughout the pandemic, but especially now. Leadership means taking responsibility. It means owning your mistakes. We did not see that from Premier Jason Kenney and his government yesterday.

While Premier Kenney acknowledged the crisis in our health care system, he refused to apologize for his decision to prematurely lift public health measures that got us where we are now. He refused to apologize for pandering to the vocal minority of anti-mask and anti-vaccination activists that protested at hospitals. He refused to apologize for saying Albertans concerned about rising case numbers were “promoting fear”. He instead defended his actions by falsely accusing people of wanting “permanent lockdowns”, rather than sensible measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Premier Kenney has not shown the leadership that Alberta deserves. He gambled with our public health by putting his political fortunes – and those of his federal Conservative allies – ahead of the health of everyday Albertans.

Albertans have lost confidence and trust in the abilities of Premier Kenney, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hinshaw to lead Alberta through the health care crisis that they themselves created. All they offer is excuses, diversion and deflection. Their mistakes have hurt and even killed people. If they have honour, they should do the right thing and immediately offer their resignations.”


Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL
[email protected]