As we kick off 2021, Alberta’s government remains focused on protecting the lives and livelihoods of Albertans. From administering vaccines to ensuring we have strong public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, we are working tirelessly to keep Albertans safe. Alberta’s government is leading all major provinces in COVID-19 immunizations. In fact, more than 65 per cent of the vaccines we have received have been administered to vulnerable Albertans and healthcare workers. In total, 33,864 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the province as of Jan. 6, working out to roughly 765 doses per 100,000 Albertans — the highest rate per capita in the country. Our province’s phased approach to vaccination prioritizes healthcare workers and our most vulnerable. Eligibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will continue to expand as more vaccines arrive in Alberta.
As was announced in December, rapid testing has been expanded to include vulnerable Albertans and has begun at long-term care and designated supportive living facilities in the Edmonton area. Remote and rural hospitals in Alberta are receiving rapid tests, and rapid testing has also been expanded to homeless shelters and centres in both Calgary and Edmonton. Our government also remains focused on ensuring our children can learn in a safe and thoughtful way. Starting on Jan. 11 schools will re-opened for in-person learning. This decision was based on the latest evidence which demonstrates that before the Christmas break, case rates in schools flattened and then dropped, once restrictions on social gatherings were implemented. In September, a clear majority of parents chose in-person learning for their children during the pandemic, and Alberta’s education system has done an excellent job of implementing and following provincial health measures. The return to school will occur with strong guidelines in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students, while also helping restore a sense of normalcy for our children. My sincere thank you to the parents, principals, teachers, EA’s, custodial staff, and most importantly, the children for being so adaptable and accommodating in the changes we have all gone through over the past many months. Your efforts are sincerely appreciated and I look forward to a time when we can see each other’s smiles because we are no longer wearing masks. We will hug one another, laugh, dance and sing. All the activities that we enjoyed in the past will be that much more appreciated once we resume. Alberta’s government is actively evaluating the latest public health data to assess if the current level of restrictions need to be adjusted. We continue to consult with affected industries and are committed to providing businesses with at least one week’s notice before any changes.
The measures that were implemented in December have helped reduce the number of active cases, however, overall case numbers, hospitalizations and positive testing rates continue to remain high. The worst thing we could do right now is increase chances of another wave of cases that would, in turn, jeopardize our healthcare system. We all have a role to play as part of the solution, and we will continue to carefully assess the data to determine what options are available to provide Albertans with more flexibility in their lives. In the meantime, please continue to follow public health measures as we will all need to work together to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta. Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve of COVID-19, sustain small businesses, and protect Alberta’s healthcare system for all. My deepest condolences to the families, friends, and neighbors who have lost loved ones during this time. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.