Alberta Demands Action - #FireBreakAB
Alberta Demands Action - #FireBreakAB
Dear Chief Medical Officer Deena Hinshaw:
Re: Demand to Comply with Obligations during the Fourth Wave- Schools
Please accept the within on behalf of concerned parents across Alberta, many of whom have signed and continue to sign an attached petition calling for your (1) immediate resignation, (2) a fire break and/or (3) basic public health measures to be immediately implemented in Alberta’s schools.
Demand # 1: Resignation Warranted
Through your actions and inactions you have demonstrated a reasonable apprehension of bias. Your position as a Chief Medical Officer of Health (“CMOH”) has been directly or indirectly compromised by partial, political and irrelevant considerations. This was further made clear in your recommendation to be “Open for Summer” which was purportedly based on cherry-picked evidence and without consideration of the highly transmissible Delta variant. This was confirmed by your almost complete inaction since Delta became dominant on July 14. 2021. Finally, this was made clear in your statements to the public on or about September 13, 2021, when you explained that, in your view, individual “beliefs” were relevant to masking in schools. As such, we ask that you immediately step down.
The consequences of your partiality have been severe. You will be aware of the known outbreaks in schools, fatalities since June 18, 2021 and the current collapse of our province's public health infrastructure, all without any apparent response from you, our CMOH.
Should you continue in your role, we specifically request that you take immediate action in accordance with your public duties, including but not limited to those outlined in the Public Health Act, sections 14 and 29(2) as further particularized below.
Demand #2: Implement equitable and temporary Firebreak
Firebreak: According to experts across this province (“Public Experts”), only a temporary “firebreak” will slow the devastating and lethal transmission of the Delta variant. A firebreak means, in its simplest terms: Enhanced public health measures during unacceptable levels of COVID community illness designed to break the chains of transmission to allow a return to more functional society and health care. Regrettably, a firebreak will include a temporary school closure to slow the spread in our schools and protect our “unable to be vaccinated” children. Unlike unvaccinated adults, our children are dependent on you to protect them.
The Public Experts supporting a firebreak include the Canadian Medical Association, the Alberta Medical Association and doctors across Alberta. It is unclear which, if any, public health professionals share your apparent recommendation and the position of the government that a firebreak should be avoided at all costs.
To be clear, we are not asking for a “permanent lockdown” as the Premier alleges. This is misleading and false. We have never and will never ask for a permanent lockdown. We are asking for the widely accepted and proven method of temporary lockdowns to gain control of an out-of-control outbreak. Respectfully, the impact on the economy is irrelevant to your analysis, but in any event, it is clear that the impact of the rampant spread on the economy is devasting and unabated by the Premier’s inexplicable refusal to accept funding from the federal government.You are a medical officer of health and a member of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta, and therefore must separate yourself from these unjustified political interferences with your role.
Public Transparency: Should you have evidence that contradicts the Public Experts, please disclose this forthwith. Albertans deserve to know the basis for your continuing refusal to implement the most efficient, temporary, and humane measure to slow the transmission of Delta and the corresponding collapse of our public health care system. Accordingly, in the face of a refusal, we demand the data and information that forms the basis of this refusal.
Equitable implementation: Finally, we remind you that, as a public official, you have an obligation to consider the rights of children and children with disabilities in implementing a firebreak. This means, in our view, that the measures taken should be equally targeted to all factions of society to minimize any further disruption to our children’s schooling.
Demand #3: Open Schools to be Safe and offer Equitable protection
When schools open or if schools stay open, we demand that you comply with your obligation to recommend basic and widely accepted public health measures. Children and, in particular, children with disabilities, deserve the equal protection of your administrative decisions, as outlined in the successive Public Health Orders.
Demand #3 is based on the widely accepted evidence that Covid is “airborne”, meaning all of the sanitizing in the world will not prevent transmission in schools. The current health orders, in particular, the exemption for masks in class and for children in kindergarten to grade 3, appears to be in complete ignorance of this widely accepted evidence. Neither is the mask exemption for younger children supported by evidence.
In particular, we note that Public Health Order (CMOH Order 44-2021) is unreasonable in what it fails to do and ask that you immediately comply with your duty to rectify these deficiencies in an equitable manner. To keep our schools safe, the following is required on the advice of the Public Experts and on the available evidence:
1. Resumption of AHS Notification of Positive cases in schools
2. Resumption of contact tracing
3. Resumption of parental notification of close contacts/classroom contacts and corresponding quarantine requirements
4. Resumption of asymptomatic testing
5. Universal masking, including K-3 and at all locations including classrooms
6. Rapid tests for schools with outbreaks
7. Published ventilation assessments of all classrooms. And where ventilation is inadequate, the installation of filtration systems as soon as reasonably practicable.
Your urgent attention to this request is appreciated and expected given the public health emergency declared on September 16, 2021.
1. Canadian Medical Association: https://www.cma.ca/news-releases-and-statements/we-need-mobilize-now-alberta-and-saskatchewans-health-systems-breaking;
2. The Emergency Medicine Executive of the Alberta Medical Association: https://www.albertadoctors.org/News%20pdfs/open-letter-section-emergency-medicine.pdf
3. Dr. James Talbot and Dr. Noel Gibney Letter October 1, 2021: https://www.dropbox.com/s/24ub6g64v0sso44/Dear%20Albertans%20Oct%201.pdf?dl=0