Drew Barnes Calls Out the Alberta Government for ICU Bed Shortages – Receives a Limp Response

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on October 30, 2021

On October 28, Independent MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, Drew Barnes called out the Alberta government and the Alberta Health Service for their failure to increase ICU capacity to levels they had promised back in April 2020.

In reporting The National Telegraph has done on the ICU beds, one thing that came up that seems to not get any media attention was past reports from the Alberta government and AHS where they claimed ICU capacity could be increased by 1,081 beds. The UCP for 2021 even increased funded ICU beds to AHS by 1,081 yet at no point has AHS ever utilized anywhere close to that amount.

In MLA Barnes’ question, he notes that as of October 23 only 347 general ICU beds were in use, before asking Premier Jason Kenney why the province failed to increase capacity while he blamed the unvaccinated for putting hospitals at risk of being overwhelmed.

Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping answered for the government, and blatantly lied in response to Barnes, stating in a shaky manner that: 

Mr. Speaker we built capacity to be able to respond to the fourth wave. We had a line on over 380 ICU beds, for surge beds, plus for additional more surge beds. Mr. Speaker that the capacity was sufficient to respond to the fourth wave, as indicated our REP program and the measures we’ve put in place are working, the numbers are coming down…

AHS ICU capacity may have been enough to deal with the increase in hospitalizations in the fourth wave of COVID-19 in Alberta; it was not nearly enough to also keep surgeries from being canceled and pushed back by months. Many Albertans suffered, and medical conditions worsened waiting for a bed to be available and Copping is simply ignoring their plight in order to pretend the government’s performance on ICU beds has been acceptable. 

Copping is also being dishonest to associate the fall in COVID-19 cases with the government’s response, as there is little evidence vaccine mandates, passports, or even lockdowns, have a significant effect on reducing the number of cases.

Barnes is right that the government and AHS failed to increase ICU capacity despite confirming that they had the ability to in their own reports, yet the government, and many legacy media outlets have continued to blame unvaccinated Albertans for ICU bed shortages at the hospitals.

It is noteworthy that Rachel Notely and the NDP are not making any criticisms of the management of the Alberta health care system outside of demanding stricter public health mandates, and more lockdowns. Effectively the NDP just wants the UCP to double down on the same ineffective policies that have been gutting the economy.

The only real check on government incompetence has been Independent MLAs Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen, who Kenney removed from the UCP caucus in May 2021 for their criticism of his lockdown-centred pandemic response.

(Photo from CHAT News Today)

Albertans need to look more critically at the performance of their government and healthcare officials as many of the stresses on the healthcare system have been exacerbated by poor management and policy, such as vaccine mandates on healthcare workers, and transferring potentially COVID-positive seniors from hospitals to care homes.  

When Minister Copping cannot come up with an adequate response to Barnes’ questions, people need to ask why their own MLAs are remaining silent and not putting pressure on the government for failing to expand ICU capacity, among many other failures.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

2 responses to “Drew Barnes Calls Out the Alberta Government for ICU Bed Shortages – Receives a Limp Response”

  1. Boyd Jody says:

    Amazing how this minister of health says there is no cause for concern because the numbers are going down, but the legacy media and snotly every day are screaming how overwhelmed the icu is. So which is it?

  2. Ralph Westermeier says:

    I’m still trying to figure out Kenny was standing strong on no lockdowns and passports before his 3 week absence and when he returned he did a 180 on lockdowns…masks…passports….Kenny….who did you meet with and why the 180??
    Did you make a deal with someone??
    Hope you didnt sell out Alberta for the highest Dollar…..once it starts it doesn’t stop ….its called blackmail!