As variants spread, some Albertans question political leadership

Some are saying the province took concept of spring break a little too literally over the Easter long weekend, leaving COVID-concerned Albertans parched for information as the pandemic sprouted new variants.

While Alberta Health Services are earning kudos for their COVID-19 TV commercials, others were asking why there was little more than a few tweets from Dr. Hinshaw over the weekend as the COVID count climbed to its highest levels since early January.

Saturday, Hinshaw tweeted about a significant COVID-19 outbreak of the Brazilian variant, involving a traveler, but the province provided no other information over the weekend as Albertans carried on with their long weekend plans.

We are providing preliminary data this weekend to keep you informed of #COVID19AB in Alberta. (1/3)

— Dr. Deena Hinshaw (@CMOH_Alberta) April 4, 2021

Monday afternoon, Hinshaw released more information, linking the outbreak to three work sites of a western Canadian company with cases in the central and north zone, in addition to a P1 variant case in the Calgary zone, leaving many questions unanswered.

A separate, unrelated P1 outbreak has been reported at a workplace in Calgary Zone. There are currently 5 cases linked to this outbreak, including 1 confirmed case of the P1 variant. Health officials are also working with the employer and supporting anyone at risk. (8/10)

— Dr. Deena Hinshaw (@CMOH_Alberta) April 5, 2021

That approach, said Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams, ran the risk of incurring the wrath of voters come election time.

"With the government giving the information that the risk was there without any information about what to do about it or what they plan to do about it, I think a lot of Albertans are feeling uncertain about their government," Williams said.

Political experts said not providing a clear picture doesn't promote collaboration with citizens, which could negatively impact compliance with provincial health guidelines.

"You've got to lead by example," said one Calgarian interviewed by CTV News. "I think they're just kind of wishy-washy as far as rule (go)."

Along with more information, a number of people who spoke to CTV said they wanted more action from Premier Kenney.

Kenney and his cabinet will meet Tuesday to discuss the situation, with Dr. Hinshaw scheduled to deliver a COVID-19 update later in the afternoon.