Coronavirus: Alberta’s been a miserable place during COVID

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Coronavirus Canada Updates: Three new COVID-19 deaths, 36 new cases announced in Manitoba Thursday
Coronavirus Canada Updates: Three new COVID-19 deaths, 36 new cases announced in Manitoba Thursday

Alberta is the most miserable province in Canada when it comes to its handling of the pandemic.

The Provincial COVID Misery Index, by the MacDonald-Laurier Institute, showed Alberta was the most miserable overall when looking at three misery factors: disease, response, and economics.

Looking at those factors individually, Alberta ranked the worst in terms of economic misery. Quebec was the worst when it came to disease misery. Ontario was worst for response misery.

Prince Edward Island was the least miserable overall, followed by Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

“Compared to the Atlantic provinces, Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta in particular have not only failed to keep COVID cases and deaths under control but have also been extremely reliant on reactive and stringent lockdowns and their economies have suffered disproportionately,” said the institute.

Economically, New Brunswick fared the best, while Alberta suffered a “major GDP and employment hit in 2020, incurring significant public debt, and failing to turn around its employment prospects in 2021.”

Rick More, Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the index shows the four wealthiest provinces — Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia — have been impacted the most by COVID. Alberta has been a leading economic driver in Canada with the highest GDP, average spending, and impressive workforce participation rate.

“Through COVID, that’s been taken away from people. Those that perceive the greatest loss, or change, probably show the most displeasure.

“Most Albertans are not happy being stuck at home. They’re not that type of person.”

He said Alberta’s oil-based economy was also weak going into the pandemic and that loss trickled down to small business.

“How they survived, some of them, I have no idea. It’s true grit.”

But when things start turning around, Alberta will see dramatic improvements, more so than the Atlantic provinces. In the meantime, Alberta needs a plan to stick to and carry them through, he said.

“The uncertainty and the fatigue is certainly affecting the whole country, but Albertans even more so. We need that carrot to go after and give us some hope,” More said.

Glen Carritt, a former Innisfail town councillor who has protested the province’s response to COVID, said he was not surprised by Alberta’s misery ranking.

“We Albertans just want to get back to work. We can do it safely and we are tired of a dictatorship-type government,” Carritt said.

“We see Texas and other states open up fully while we continue to devastate businesses and cause an enormous amount of mental health issues for everyone. We are arresting people with intentions of just wanting to survive and it’s wrong.”

The institute said Alberta’s death rate was not as high as some other provinces, “suggesting Alberta has done relatively well in protecting its most vulnerable residents, despite the high disease rates in the province.”

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