Premier’s senior staff member will repay COVID-19 hotel isolation expense from January

A senior member of Premier Jason Kenney’s communications team will repay about $1,400 in expenses that included a downtown Calgary hotel room and meals while he isolated following a positive COVID-19 test.

Brock Harrison, executive director of communications and planning for the premier of Alberta took a bus from Edmonton to Calgary ahead of a trip to Washington D.C. with premier Kenney in January. He received a positive pre-departure test result ahead of his flight to the US capital.

“He immediately isolated in his hotel room in accordance with Alberta Health rules, and continued to work remotely,” read a statement from press secretary Justin Brattinga.

“As he lives in Edmonton and took public transit to Calgary for work, there was no way for him to return home without interacting with numerous people and exposing them to COVID-19.”

Harrison expensed a $1218.62 hotel stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott on Tenth Ave S.W., along with six days worth of meal allowances at $32.35 per day, for a  total of $1412.72 between January 26th and February 1st.

Last summer, the province disbanded the isolation hotel program that allowed Albertans to quarantine, following a positive result.

Following his isolation, Harrison flew back to Edmonton.

The premier’s office said that Harrison followed all the rules when expensing his stay, but added that he will repay the full amount.

“Despite the fact that Mr. Harrison followed the rules and was transparent with his expenses, out of respect for taxpayers, Mr. Harrison is reimbursing the GOA for expenses incurred,” said Brattinga.

Alberta’s NDP says Harrison should never have expensed the quarantine in the first place.

“I can’t imagine there is a justification for this,” said labour critic Christina Gray.

“The majority of Albertans today, do not have paid sick leave and this high paid, $180,000 a year government staffer gets a hotel stay with room service for his isolation.”

We reached out to Harrison for comment, to which he replied he had nothing further to add.