Alberta’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan is facing harsh criticism from comments made during a virtual town hall meeting on Friday evening.
“Our criteria is measured against our hospital capacity to handle ICUs and hospitalizations,” said Luan. “We’re waiting to see where that threshold will be pushed to our limit and then gradually reduce more activities that way.”
The Alberta NDP believe Luan’s comments insinuate that the provinces 173 ICU beds, 56 of which are occupied by COVID-19 patients, will have to be fully occupied, before the province introduces any new restriction measures.
“If this is just another one of Luan’s 'bozo eruptions,' then Jason Kenney must immediately tell Albertans exactly what the true thresholds are to take action,” said David Shepherd, NDP Official Opposition critic for health.
“He must also seriously consider whether Luan can remain in cabinet while broadcasting false information to Albertans during a deadly public health crisis.”
But on Sunday, Luan retracted those comments, in a statement posted to Twitter.
“I was incorrect in suggesting anyone is waiting until we’re pushed to the limit,” said Luan. “That was not accurate.”
Luan went on to say that the province is making evidence-based decisions on expert advice from public health officials.
“I truly regret any confusion my statement has caused,” he said. “I am not a spokesperson or involved in any decision making around introducing new restrictions or hospital capacity.”
Luan had also mentioned in his town hall address, that if numbers don’t come down, restrictions will be implemented.
“If we don’t see the trend plateauing in the next week or two, I think she’s (Dr. Deena Hinshaw) coming back with more restrictive measures to recommend to the cabinet,” said Luan on Friday.
Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said Friday that the province does not want to fill all the allotted beds available for COVID-19 patients.
“The reason that we are not wanting to have all of those beds to be filled with COVID patients, (is because) they could be made available,” said Hinshaw.
“But what that would mean is, we would be less able to offer services, to people with other health needs.”