News Release: Update on COVID-19
It has been three weeks since Alberta’s first case of COVID-19 was identified. My colleagues and I at the legislature have been working hard to keep Albertans safe, and our government has enacted aggressive public health measures to limit the spread. Moreover, we have made significant investments to support Albertans through these unprecedented and difficult times. In just the last couple of weeks we have invested an additional $500 million to the health budget, $60 million to support charitable and non-profit social services organizations, $50 million in Emergency Isolation Support, utility payment relief, a six-month, interest free moratorium on Alberta student loan payments, and freezing education property taxes at last year’s levels. It is a difficult time for many Grande Prairie residents, and I encourage them to visit www.alberta.ca/covid for more information on the support being provided to them by the Alberta Government.
Just yesterday, our province saw an increase of 67 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 486. Currently, we have 26 cases in the north. Now more than ever we must work together as Albertans, and the best way to do that is by following the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health including the social distancing requirements. We must take this seriously, and I am confident that the people of Grande Prairie are doing the best they can to keep themselves and their families safe. Each person has a responsibility in to stop the spread of COVID-19: please remember to wash your hands, practice good hygiene and stay home if you are sick.
Despite aggressive measures already in place, additional actions are needed to protect our most vulnerable Albertans. We will use all necessary enforcement measures to ensure Albertans take this situation seriously including: mandatory self-isolation for travellers returning from outside of Canada, self-isolation for close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, any individual with COVID-19 symptoms, which consist of a cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat, mass gatherings must be limited to no more than 50 attendees, access to public recreational facilities, private entertainment facilities, bars and nightclubs is prohibited and visitation to long-term care and other continuing care facilities is limited to essential visitors only.
Further, there is starting fine of $1000 for breaking public health orders, and courts will increase power to administer fines of up to $100, 000 for the a first offence, and $500,000 for subsequent offences for more serious violations. If anyone is aware of non-compliance they can file a complaint online at Alberta Health Services. There is no phone number to call, and residents should not call law enforcement directly.
I would like to draw attention to a local Grande Prairie Initiative: The COVID-19 Community Care Program: Food & Pharmacy targets vulnerable citizens. This includes those who are unable to visit stores and pharmacies because of self-isolation requirements, as directed by Alberta Health Services. It also includes people without the financial support to purchase essential goods. For more information refer to the GPREP Website: https://www.gprep.ca.
We are all in this together, and our individual actions will help in our efforts against COVID-19. Grande Prairie residents are encouraged to take the online assessment at www.ahs.ca/covid if you are feeling unwell and for the most up to date information refer to www.alberta.ca/covid19.
Tracy L. Allard, MLA