I have heard from a number of constituents that would like to see City Council reactivate the Temporary Face Covering Bylaw. This Bylaw is in its deactivated state until December 31, 2021, meaning this Bylaw still exists. Should the Province go back to Stage 2, Edmonton’s face covering bylaw will automatically be reactivated.
I continue to believe all Covid related actions and restrictions should be implemented by the Province. The Province is in a position to make data-informed decisions regarding the protection of the health of Albertans - because they have all the data - and the City simply does not. The City does not have a Health Ministry, a Chief Medical Officer, or a single employee with medical expertise. Council does get input from a medical official at our monthly Emergency Advisory Committee meetings, but I don’t think that brief interaction puts City Council in a position to make decisions that ought to be left to the Provincial government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
That said, I am quite concerned that the Province, as of this writing, has still not disclosed the data and modelling that has informed their decisions regarding Covid restrictions. And while I don’t think masks are the panacea that some believe they are, mask-wearing is a relatively simple and unimposing action that I think people should take. I continue to wear a mask at indoor gatherings and publicly accessible spaces.
We have seen hospitalizations nearly double in a week, and ICU numbers rise, while at the same time the conversation has started regarding the potential need for vaccine boosters. We have not received clear advice regarding the number of children in pediatric ICUs versus the number of beds available in those ICUs, and we see from some jurisdictions in the US that hospitalization rates amongst children are rising.
People are looking for clear, transparent advice and guidance. When that advice isn’t offered, and when we see concerning reports from other places, some people insist that City Council step in and take action.
While I really do not want to step into another government’s jurisdiction, I understand the increasing concern amongst constituents and their desire to see Council take action in the absence of meaningful reassurance from the Province.
Too often, public Covid conversations have been based on emotion and politics. If Council is going to be forced to have another conversation about Covid restrictions, I would like to see Council and City Administration clearly define the data sets that will determine when any restrictions will be reactivated, and when such restrictions would be removed. I would like to see a clear set of metrics and thresholds that would guide further actions.
I don’t think the number of new cases, by itself, is a compelling metric anymore. The correlation between case numbers and serious outcomes has changed with the introduction of vaccinations. And, as of this writing, the vast majority of new cases and hospitalizations are unvaccinated adults. It is time for those individuals to take proactive action to protect their own health, as opposed to Council taking action to restrict the movements of everyone to accommodate the reluctance of some to act.
Below you will find a summary of recent decisions and future meetings.
On Friday, August 13th, the Province announced that masking on transit, testing and mandatory isolation restrictions will remain in place until September 27th. To learn more about the current Provincial COVID-19 public health actions in place, please click here. I support the extension of these measures until September 27th, and I believe the situation needs to continue to be monitored.
At City Council on Monday, August 16th, the following Motion was passed:
That Administration prepare possible amendments to the Temporary Mandatory Face Covering Bylaw to reinstate the requirement for masks on transit and vehicles for hire as of September 27, 2021, to consider with the expiry of the current provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health order, including recommended thresholds or conditions. Due Date: August 30, 2021 City Council
The conversation at City Council will continue on August 30th where these potential bylaw amendments will be considered. In addition, City Council is scheduled to meet at the Emergency Advisory Committee (EAC) Meeting on September 8th. While the Provincial restrictions will still be in place until September 27th, this EAC Meeting will allow Council to review potential metrics and thresholds that might trigger further responses by City Council.
In summary, Council is aware of the evolving situation and understands the importance of having these discussions.
Many have also communicated to me about your concerns about the safety of your children attending school this fall. I encourage you to click here to read more about the Province’s plan for the new school year.
As noted in the above link “School authorities continue to have the ability and the corresponding accountability to put in place local measures, such as physical distancing, cohorting, and masking requirements that may exceed provincial guidance”. School Boards are implementing safety measures for the new school year. To learn more about Edmonton Public’s return to the classroom, please click here. To learn more about Edmonton Catholic’s return to the classroom, please click here.
If you have feedback to share regarding the return to school, please share them with your School Board Trustee. Please click here to find your Edmonton Public Trustee or click here to find your Edmonton Catholic Trustee.
Thank you, again, for taking the time to contact this office and share your feedback. Please continue to contact us with any other municipal questions or concerns you have in the future. Your feedback and input is appreciated and valued.
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