Premier Kenney addressed Albertans from the Cabinet Room tonight, opening with an homage to the great crises the Alberta Legislature has stood through.
Kenney quickly addressed what he refers to as the “triple threat” attacking our province:
- The global COVID-19 health crisis;
- The global economic shut-down; and
- The collapse of the Alberta energy industry.
Noting that the health of Albertans is top priority, Kenney suggests the triple threat be addressed as a combined effort to protect the “lives and livelihoods” of all Albertans. That clever key message allows Kenney the comfort of being able to maintain the protection of jobs and the economy in this, a time that challenges his fundamental approach to leadership. From the depths of the twittersphere, commentary around Kenney tripling the level of fear in Albertans was not to be missed. It is, however, a heartbreaking reality for Albertans today and as we move toward the eventual emergence from this crisis.
Kenney applauded the provincial testing level and tracking of close contact. Alberta has the second-highest per-capita diagnosis rate, but Kenney credits that to testing, suggesting it allows Albertans heightened identification of at-risk groups, specifically in congregate settings.
Running through the numbers (broken out on the following page) Kenney gave Albertans a picture of the current crisis scenario, a probable peak scenario, and a more aggressive, elevated peak scenario. He finished his breakdown with the stark projections if the province wasn’t taking such strong measures.
“This simply cannot and will not continue indefinitely. I want this to end as soon as you do, but we simply cannot risk letting the virus loose in Alberta. That would create a public health catastrophe, which would force an even more stringent lock down in the future, leaving our economy even further battered.”
Kenney’s words to Alberta families and businesses both big, small, and everything in between were uttered with an urgency to convey the understanding of their pain and powerlessness. How Albertans act in the weeks to come, and the subsequent COVID-19 case identification will inform the timeframe which the government of Alberta implements to relaunch the province. The current health orders will almost definitely be in place through the end of May 2020, but the onus is on Albertan to flatten the curve.
Alberta’s plan for recovery is being informed by the Economic Recovery Council, and will be modelled after the recovery efforts out of Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea. Aggressive mass testing, tracking of close contact, stringent border screening, strictly enforced quarantine measures, and facilitating face coverings in public settings are the key elements to restarting the economy while preventing a second wave of the COVID-19 virus.
The grim realities playing out in Alberta’s energy sector served as the last talking point of the night for Kenney. The Premier pointed to the lowest oil prices in our history, with the possibility of hitting negative numbers in the coming weeks. The province may be paying people to take our product. There will be more rolled out in the coming days on the potential work to be done with the United States to defend North American energy against the predatory practices of our opponents.
Kenney closed with Churchill’s “nothing to fear, but fear itself” quote, and a buffalo analogy imparted on him by Preston Manning.
“The buffalo heard closely together, and they face the storm head on. Coming out of it strong and united. That captures who we are, and how we’re going to get through this”.
Perhaps he meant closely together, but far apart.
BY THE NUMBERS
(As of April 7, 2020)
+ 1,373 confirmed cases
+ 42 cases currently being treated in hospital
+ 26 lives lost to COVID-19
+ 447 recovered cases
+ Peak, mid-May
+ 800,000 infections by end of summer
+ 400 – 3,100 deaths by end of summer
+ Peak, early-May
+ 1,000,000 infections by end of summer
+ 500 – 6,600 deaths by end of summer
WITHOUT PHYSICAL DISTANCING MEASURES SCENARIO
+ 1,600,000 infections by end of summer
+ 32,000 deaths by end of summer