Alberta premier pledges to protect the unvaccinated – Smithers Interior News

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Danielle Smith, sworn in as Alberta’s new premier on Tuesday, said she would shake up the top tier of the health care system within three months and change provincial human rights law to protect those who choose not to get vaccinated.

“(The unvaccinated) have been the most discriminated group I have ever seen in my life,” Smith told reporters at the Legislative Assembly.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a situation in my life where someone was fired from their job or wasn’t allowed to watch their kids play hockey or wasn’t allowed to visit a loved one. in long-term care or in hospital, are not allowed to fly across the country to see family or even cross the border.

“We are not going to create a segregated society based on medical choice.”

Earlier in the day, Smith was sworn in by the lieutenant governor. Salma Lakhani during a ceremony at Government House.

In a speech there, Smith said, “Albertans have been through so much over the past two and a half years. Our rights and freedoms have been put to the test.

“As the leader of this government, I will ensure that these rights and freedoms are protected and never again taken for granted.”

Smith, 51, ran and won the United Conservative Party leadership race last week to replace Jason Kenney as leader and premier.

She ran on a promise to ensure human rights protections for the unvaccinated and to fire senior management of Alberta Health Services, the province’s frontline health care provider.

She said AHS botched the job during the COVID-19 pandemic by not following cabinet guidelines to increase surge capacity as hospitalizations soared, while implementing vaccine rules which were depleting the workforce.

“When they fail to meet targets and fail to follow direction, you change direction. And so that’s what we’re going to do,” Smith said. governance structure within 90 days.”

Smith also announced that she plans to replace Dr. Deena Hinshaw as Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Hinshaw was hailed early in the pandemic, then came under fire as hospitals were overwhelmed.

“I appreciate the work that Dr Deena Hinshaw has done, but I think we’re in a new phase where we’re now talking about treating coronavirus as endemic, like we do with the flu. So I will be developing a new team of public health advisors,” Smith said.

Smith will also serve as intergovernmental affairs minister and plans to announce a revised cabinet on Oct. 21.

Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, Kenney formally tendered his resignation as Prime Minister. He announced he was stepping down months earlier following an uninteresting 51% support vote in a party leadership review.

Smith and Kenney fought publicly during the leadership campaign. He called his foundational promise to create an Alberta sovereignty act to dismiss federal laws and court rulings as “crazy” and a fuse to ignite a powder keg of political and economic turmoil.

Smith said she hasn’t heard directly from Kenney since her victory last Thursday.

“I contacted him and he didn’t accept my invitation to a meeting,” she said. “I think the Prime Minister needs some time and I’m ready to give him some. It’s a big adjustment.

Smith does not have a seat in the Legislative Assembly, but announced over the weekend that she would run in a by-election to fill a vacant seat in Brooks-Medicine Hat in southern Alberta. .

Elections Alberta called the November 8 by-election.

Almost all of Smith’s leadership rivals and other UCP caucus members criticized Smith’s proposed act of sovereignty as unconstitutional and untenable.

In Calgary, Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she and Justice Critic Kathleen Ganley wrote to all UCP caucus members asking them to to oppose it in person in the Legislative Assembly.

“If they were telling the truth on the leadership race track, the bottom line is that they can’t let this bill pass. It’s time to put the province before the party and do the right thing,” Notley said.

The next general election is scheduled for May 29 and Smith said she would not call a vote sooner.

—Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

AlbertaCoronavirus vaccines

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