thumb-2020-11-024 This article is more than 6 months old
News Brief

Jason Kenney and Tyler Shandro Are Interfering With Alberta’s Top Public Health Experts: Leaked Audio Recordings

Audio recordings reportedly show political interference and micromanagement of Alberta’s top doctor, according to CBC News

Alberta’s top public health experts are being overruled, micromanaged and facing political interference from Premier Jason Kenney and his beleaguered Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro.

According to leaked audio newly obtained by CBC News, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and several top civil servants complained about unreasonable political directives made by Kenney and his UCP government as the province’s COVID-19 cases skyrocketed out-of-control.

CBC News’ Jennie Russell said the 20 recordings from Emergency Operations Centre meetings revealed “micromanagement by Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, and cabinet, who sometimes overruled expert scientific advice.”

Public health experts describe “bloody and excruciating” battles with Kenney’s political operatives: According to CBC News, Dr. Hinshaw complained of a “battle” over COVID-19 testing that left her exhausted.

Hinshaw explained that the resistance she faced to expert health advice had forced her to change her focus to simply try to “limit the worst possible” outcomes “without wearing ourselves down.”

“Honestly, after the battle that we had about molecular testing, I don’t have a lot of fight left in me … I think we need to draw on our experience from the molecular testing battle that we ultimately lost, after a bloody and excruciating campaign, and think about, how do we limit the worst possible implications of this without wearing ourselves down?”

Shandro’s office tried to control information presented to Kenney: Another recording suggests Dr. Hinshaw got in “trouble” after she expressed concerns directly to Kenney about the value of large-scale asymptomatic testing.

According to the recording, Kenney asked Hinshaw to prepare a presentation, but a week later, the government did the opposite of what Hinshaw advised:

“I didn’t intend to have that conversation, so I may have gotten in trouble with the [health] minister’s office today about that,” Hinshaw said at that meeting.

The presentation, she said, would include “how expensive it is to test people when we don’t actually get a lot of value, to go forward with a testing strategy that we can stand behind. So we will see if the minister’s office will allow us to put that [presentation] forward,” Hinshaw said …

A week later, Hinshaw publicly announced the province had opened up asymptomatic testing to any Albertan who wanted it. At a news conference, she said that given the impending Stage 2 relaunch, it was an “opportune time” to expand testing.

Lawyers pushed back after Shandro tried to usurp Hinshaw’s powers:  The recordings also reportedly showed Shandro tried to “exert control over enforcement of public health orders,” but Alberta Health lawyers protested Shandro’s attempt to override powers that belong by law to the Chief Medical Officer:

Alberta Health lawyers, working with the EOC, were responsible for writing the Stage 2 relaunch order that would outline restrictions on businesses and the public.

Hinshaw said she needed to verify with Shandro’s office, but she thought “they don’t want us to enforce anything. [They] just want us to educate, and no enforcement.”

But the group’s chief legal advisor was adamant.

“Under no circumstance will AHS check with the political minister’s office before undertaking an enforcement action under the Public Health Act,” he said

Hinshaw said Shandro’s office wanted AHS to check with her first, so she could report back to his office.

Jason Kenney’s office smears journalists, academics: Following CBC News’ report, Kenney’s high-paid political spin doctors began attacking CBC’s journalists and an academic quoted in the story in an effort to shoot the messenger:

Health minister cancels radio appearance: As a sign of how worried Kenney’s government is about the revelations, CBC Radio’s Calgary Eyeopener announced Shandro made a last-minute cancellation after the story broke Thursday morning.

[CBC News]

Help us protect Canadians by holding the powerful accountable.

Journalism is an important public service. That’s why PressProgress is prioritizing stories aimed at keeping Canadians safe and holding the powerful accountable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Please consider supporting our award-winning non-profit news organization so we can keep making a positive impact for Canadians.


Support Our Journalism
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

Most Shared

thumb-2021-06-022 News

Doug Ford’s Government Cut Education By More Than Half a Billion Dollars, New Report Finds

Related Stories

News Brief

Zero Per Cent of Manitobans Say They Are ‘Very Satisfied’ With Brian Pallister’s Handling of COVID-19 Pandemic, Poll Finds

View the post
News Brief

Catholic Sisterhood Calls For Mike Harris’ Removal From Board of For-Profit Long-Term Care Company

View the post
News Brief

Montréal’s Biggest COVID-19 Vaccination Site Shut Down Thanks to Online Fringe Groups, QAnon Followers and Maxime Bernier

View the post


Power and democracy

Andrea Reimer

Why Canadian Politics Does Such a Bad Job at Reflecting Working Class Values

View the post
Politics & strategy

Tom Parkin

Why Jason Kenney is Playing Politics with the Horrific Legacy of Canada’s Residential Schools

View the post
Work & rights

Liz Walker and Shanice Regis-Wilkins

Here is What Everyone in Canada Needs To Know About How Collective Bargaining Really Works

View the post