Premier Danielle Smith announces members of COVID-19 review panel
Premier Danielle Smith has announced the members of a COVID-19 policy review panel.
The committee will examine the public safety measures rolled out by the province and produce recommendations to improve the response to future public health emergencies. Its final report is slated to come out Nov. 15 of this year.
Jack Mintz, Dr. Martha Fulford, Michel Kelly-Gagnon, Dr. Rob Tanguay and John C. Major join chair Preston Manning on the Public Health Emergencies Governance Review panel.
"Albertans can have confidence Alberta's pandemic response will be reviewed by these medical, policy, legal and economic experts so our province can better respond to the next public health emergency," Smith said in a statement Friday.
Mintz is the president's fellow at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy and advises and writes on tax, business and health policy.
Smith fired him and the governing board of Alberta Health Services in November. She said they failed Albertans during the pandemic by failing to scale up hospital capacity as promised, forcing the government to impose what Smith has termed freedom-busting health restrictions.
In an opinion piece published in the Financial Post in November, Mintz wrote that he was OK with the firing because the changes represent a necessary jump-start to achieve true reform in health-care delivery.
Fulford is chief of medicine at McMaster University Medical Centre in Hamilton and focuses on infectious diseases. She has publicly spoken out against several COVID-19 safety restrictions, including the duration of Ontario school closures.
Kelly-Gagnon is president of the Montreal Economic Institute, which advocates for a "world that is free and responsible," according to the organization's website. Posts on the group's website are also critical of both the Quebec and federal governments' COVID-19 health restrictions.
Tanguay is a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Calgary who has worked extensively with Alberta Health Services and is credited with founding Alberta's Opioid Deprescribing Program.
Major is a retired Supreme Court judge who has previously served as counsel for the province of Alberta and is a member of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice.
University of Calgary law professor Lorian Hardcastle specializes in public policy and has concerns about the people appointed to the panel.
"The panel seems like it's been designed to reach the conclusion that the government successfully balanced lives and livelihoods," she said.
"I don't think this panel is going to result in any meaningful improvements whatsoever."
Panel members will analyze government decision-making and its impact on public health, jobs, mental health and civil liberties to improve handling of public health crises. Alberta residents are also invited to share their perspectives on health emergency response online.
Former Reform party leader Preston Manning, who was announced as chair a month ago, is to be paid $253,000. The panel's budget is $2 million.