In striking act of generosity, Alberta donates protective gear worth $41 million to three provinces

Updated: Aug 9

Behind all the bickering, Canadian provinces have always been quick to help each other in a crisis.

Don Braid  •  Calgary Herald Publishing date: April 11, 2020  •  3 minute read

Original Source:

Premier Jason Kenney in the AHS Edmonton Distribution Centre on Saturday, April 11, 2020. Alberta is sending supplies to British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec to help address unprecedented demand in those provinces for personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. PHOTO BY CHRIS SCHWARZ / Government of Alberta

During the great Fort McMurray fire of 2016, for instance, Ontario sent 100 firefighters. B.C provided more than 80. Quebec contributed four water bombers.

This is both admirable and routine. It’s what happens in Canada.

But there has never, ever, been anything like the UCP government’s donation of vast amounts of protective equipment to B.C., Ontario and Quebec as they face dangerous shortfalls.

“We want all of our country to know that in both good times and bad, Alberta is there for Canada,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

The total value of the contribution announced Saturday is $41.2 million. The province does not ask for payment.

As jurisdictions everywhere scramble for crucial protective gear, Alberta will send 250,000 N95 masks to B.C.

Quebec gets 250,000 N95 masks, two million procedural masks and 15 million gloves. The biggest beneficiary by far is Ontario, which will receive 250,000 N95 masks, 2.5 million procedural masks, 15 million gloves, 87,000 goggles, as well as 50 ventilators, which will be returned when they’re no longer needed.

The importance of the donations cannot be exaggerated. Nothing would lead to a panic collapse of COVID-19 care more quickly than running out of protective gear for health workers.

Some people will wonder if this is over-generous or worry that Alberta could run short. Kenney says that won’t happen.

He promises the province will still be amply stocked, with more shipments to arrive. The province’s ventilator supply is expected to double by the end of the month.

Alberta’s contribution to other provinces is valued at over $41 million. CHRIS SCHWARZ In fact, Kenney says Alberta could help more provinces if they have a need.

“I for one, as an Albertan and as a Canadian, could not in conscience watch us stockpile massive amounts of surplus equipment while we see many of our fellow Canadians, some provinces within days of running out of some of these supplies.

“Albertans should be very proud that we are able to extend a helping hand to our Canadian brothers and sisters in this time of need.”

If we can set aside partisan poison for just one day, this can only be seen as a humane and generous gesture that people in other provinces will long remember.

One question is: How on earth can Alberta do this, when other provinces are struggling to find equipment? For one thing, the crises elsewhere are worse than expected, especially in Ontario and Quebec.

But the more important factor is Alberta’s highly focused procurement team which started work very early, as columnist David Staples vividly explained recently.And that in turn is possible because of Alberta’s unified provincial health system, which a decade ago dispensed with regional health boards that at one time numbered 17.

We now have only the one, Alberta Health Services. Among other provinces, only Saskatchewan (since 2017) and tiny P.E.I also use a single authority for health care. Quebec, by extreme contrast, has 18 self-governing regions. Ontario has 14, and B.C. seven. Those regional setups are good at meeting local needs, but they can be dysfunctional in the face of an all-consuming threat like COVID-19.

Local health authorities don’t have the purchasing power to match a big uni-system like Alberta’s.

In Alberta, AHS makes all the calls and supplies the goods.

Often accused of being too big, AHS in this crisis has proven to be exceptionally efficient at supplying Alberta’s needs — and even Canada’s, it appears.

Kenney’s people say the decision was all medical and humanitarian, not political, but there are undeniable benefits.

The first is goodwill, which Alberta will definitely need as Canada emerges from the pandemic and usual issues, like pipelines, reappear.

Also, the Trudeau government keeps throwing out hints about invoking the federal Emergencies Act, which would give Ottawa power to redistribute supplies to areas of greatest need.

Kenney just showed the country that federal intervention isn’t necessary. This is both humane and very, very smart.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald Twitter: @DonBraid Facebook: Don Braid Politics


Q: If this virus REALLY is such a threat and we are about to be hit with on onslaught of infections, as predicted by the province's own study published here, why on earth would Alberta be sending such a massive supply of personal protective equipment to another province if we might need it soon?

A: Because Jason Kenny knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that it won't be needed during this fake pandemic; the numbers clearly don't support a lockdown much longer. As part of a goodwill chess move though, he expects Ottawa and Quebec to reciprocate with goodwill on pipelines and the carbon tax in the very near future. Politics in Canada, eh?


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