The leaders of Alberta’s largest public and private sector unions are calling on the provincial government to take circuit breaker measures to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.
In a joint statement to the government, union leaders representing nearly 350,000 say these measures are necessary because “the pandemic in Alberta has gotten out of hand.”
“This is not scaremongering on our part, we see the collapse of our health care system and we also see that our schools and workplaces are not safe,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labor. .
“We would not be in a position to talk about these drastic measures if this government had actually followed the advice of experts and implemented mitigation measures weeks ago.”
A circuit breaker would temporarily close restaurants, bars, theaters, casinos and gyms, suspend recreational sports and send students home to study online.
As of Tuesday, there were more than 58,000 known cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. Alberta’s health official said the province is likely to contract just one in 10 cases of COVID-19, meaning the actual number of cases would be much higher.
McGowan added that it is “unusual” for so many different unions to come together to call for these measures.
In addition to the circuit breaker, unions are also calling for more preventive measures such as mandating better masks, better ventilation and mandatory paid sick leave.
“At a time when we tell people to stay home when they’re sick, we need to make it possible to do that without worrying about not being able to pay the rent or mortgage or put food on the table. McGowwan said.
“We are making this appeal… as a last resort, we would have preferred to have kept our economy open, our children in the classroom, but because this government has dragged its feet and failed to act with reasonable mitigation measures… we are past it. point of no return and we have lost the opportunity to cope with this Omicron wave with less severe mitigation measures.”
A statement from Jason Kenney’s press secretary said the government will “continue to follow the science and advice of our public health officials”.
“A circuit breaker is not on the table and is not being considered,” added Justin Brattinga.