'Disturbing' graffiti painted outside Edmonton AHS office

·3 min read
Employees found graffiti outside AHS offices Friday morning in Edmonton by the Plaza 124 building on 124 Street and 102 Ave. (davecedm/Reddit - image credit)
Employees found graffiti outside AHS offices Friday morning in Edmonton by the Plaza 124 building on 124 Street and 102 Ave. (davecedm/Reddit - image credit)

Vandals have twice targeted Alberta Health Services since Thursday, leaving employees unsettled by their messages.

Red paint spelling the words "AHS Nazis" greeted some Edmonton workers Friday morning after someone inked the words on the pavement outside the entrance to the Plaza 124 building on 124th Street and 102nd Ave.

An AHS spokesperson called the message "disturbing," and said workers found it both upsetting and threatening.

"This type of language and vandalism of any kind is completely unacceptable and after a year of hard work from all of our AHS staff to fight the pandemic, it's demoralizing to see this kind of action taken," said a statement from the organization.

Also painted in red on a nearby bus shelter and sidewalk were the words, "No more lockdowns."

AHS plans to report the incident to Edmonton police.

Employees targeted

In the northwestern Alberta community of La Crete, RCMP say four vehicles rented by AHS employees were pelted with eggs on Thursday morning.

AHS employees were in the community, about 670 kilometres north of Edmonton, to help launch a new electronic health information system called Connect Care.

Mackenzie County posted a notice online saying misinformation had been spreading about why additional AHS workers were in the area.

AHS said it does not know the motives for the vandalism.

The United Conservative Party MLA for the area, Dan Williams, posted a message on Facebook saying it was disappointing to see the workers targeted while they were upgrading rural health services.

"I know La Crete to be a hospitable and welcoming place, and I would expect that the community of La Crete would extend that same hospitality to visitors with courtesy and warmth, no matter the purpose and no matter who they work for," he wrote on Thursday.

Connect Care, which is rolling out in phases across the province, is set to launch Saturday in the province's northwest.

AHS is one of the authorities responsible for enforcing public health orders put in place by the Alberta government.

Some frustrated by health orders

On Wednesday, AHS announced officials had physically closed the GraceLife Church building in Parkland County after it repeatedly violated public health orders limiting the number of people who could attend worship services.

Since December, hundreds of people have gathered for services at the church west of Edmonton, in violation of demands from Alberta's chief medical officer of health, AHS and the courts.

Provincial regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 restrict in-person attendance at churches to 15 per cent of capacity and require those who do attend to physically distance and wear masks.

Critics said the church's closure was Draconian and an attack on fundamental freedoms.

In a Facebook video posted Wednesday afternoon, MLA Williams decried the church's closure. He said he has argued against his own government's 15 per cent capacity limit in places of worship.

"It is a different line to cross to barricade a church," Williams said in the video. "We need to take a stand."

Williams could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The Alberta government has also come under fire — including from a contingent of 17 government MLAs — for additional restrictions announced on Tuesday to attempt to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Upon advice from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the government once again closed Alberta restaurants and bars to indoor dining. Libraries are now closed and gyms may only offer one-on-one scheduled training sessions. Other services such as physiotherapy or salons can see clients by appointment only.

More contagious variant strains of the disease have prompted a rapid jump in the number of new cases, and hospitalizations are once again on the rise.

The premier said earlier this week Alberta hospitals could be overwhelmed by the end of May.