Hinshaw condemns leaked audio over COVID-19 response; RMWB extends mandatory mask order

·2 min read

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said she is “profoundly disappointed” after recordings of civil servants and elected officials disagreeing over how to fight COVID-19 were leaked to CBC News. An internal investigation will be done to find who recorded and leaked the audio, which she said has been taken out of context.

“This is a personal betrayal of the trust our hardworking team has placed in each other,” she said during a Thursday press conference.

The article, which was published Thursday morning, relies on audio secretly recorded during meetings with the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).

At the meetings, Hinshaw said she disagreed with some decisions the Alberta government was taking to stop the spread of the virus. Alberta now leads Canada in active COVID-19 cases. The report also claims Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro “micromanaged” civil servants and often overruled their advice to push for a quick relaunch strategy.

On Thursday, Hinshaw argued her role is to provide advice and carry out plans decided by the Alberta governmnet. She also said her ideas have been considered respectfully by cabinet and stressed that making final decisions is not within her power.

“I care deeply about the health of Albertans. It remains my hope that Albertans understand that and respect that every conversation I have puts their health, and a holistic consideration of all aspects of their health, first,” she said. “I do not dictate every detail of each policy decision and I should not. I was not elected by Albertans.”

Shandro also spoke at Thursday’s briefing and condemned the leaked audio, echoing statements that the action betrayed and “embarrassed” Hinshaw and the rest of her team.

“We listen closely, we debate the range of policy options that she offers and their different impacts,” said Shandro. “As elected officials, we do what we were elected to do. We make decisions that are in the best interest of Albertans.”

Shandro also announced it has obtained 577,000 point-of-care rapid testing kits that will be available in early December. Tests will be used as a pilot project in Calgary, Edmonton, Slave Lake, St. Paul and Bonnyville.

The municipality has also extended its mandatory mask order for indoor public spaces. The bylaw went into effect on Oct. 26 and will be lifted if the municipality has less than 50 active cases in 30 days. The mask order will be reviewed on Dec. 26.

swilliscraft@postmedia.com

Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today