The Alberta Government has turned Care Homes into Outbreak Centres

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on March 6, 2021

Currently, if someone returns to Canada on an international flight not only do they have to go out and get a specific COVID-19 test three days before their return, but they are welcomed back to the country with a three-day stay in a quarantined hotel. They are required to pay for this hotel stay before they can return to their homes which in many cases are only been a few kilometres away from the hotel. 

After hearing that, one assumes that the government’s management of public health and safety in this COVID-19 crisis is one guided by the utmost caution, perhaps one may say, the response could be viewed as overly cautious. More to the point, surely these strict lockdowns must be nothing compared to the measures taken to protect our seniors in care homes. That is where you would be wrong.

Since March of 2020, the Alberta Health Service (AHS) has, on the surface, seemed to be on top of things. They have limited visits to patients, had care home workers smothered in PPE, and have closed down facilities in rolling lockdowns after internal outbreaks. The first major lockdown in March of 2020 where no visitors, aside from essential healthcare workers, were admitted, lasted for 46 days. After that only two DSP’s (Designated Support Persons) have been granted access to provide care needs that cannot be supported by staff on site. So why have there been so many outbreaks in care homes if everything is being managed so carefully? The answer is poor policy-making by AHS. 

(Photo from National Observer)

(Photo from National Observer)

On the AHS’ own website, it can be seen that since March of 2020, AHS has put much stricter controls on decreasing transmission rates among regular Albertans than seniors in care homes.

AHS directly dissuades healthcare professionals from testing asymptomatic seniors before transporting them back to their care homes. Very early on in the pandemic, we understood people can be infected for a period of time before showing any symptoms, but these seniors are being transported back to care homes with a chance they may still have COVID-19.


Although AHS is recommending all Albertans leaving hospitals not to be tested if they are asymptomatic, the risks are very different between someone in their 30’s who can isolate alone in their own home, compared to seniors with multiple comorbidities living together in a care home. The province neglecting to have a specific policy for discharges to care homes is deeply irresponsible. They may as well throw up their hands and say “what happens happens” when they have broken policies like this in place.

The National Telegraph team has been told by AHS healthcare professionals (who cannot be named due to risks to their employment) working in hospitals that even when they have tested seniors for COVID-19 they do not have the ability to keep them in hospital long enough to get test results back.

(Photo from CTV News)

(Photo from CTV News)

In the last article on this subject from The National Telegraph Karen Dickson noted that there is evidence of seniors being transported back from a hospital after not being tested and then placed into shared rooms with mobile care home patients.

To add insult to injury, the transferred patient is then tested at the care home while in the shared room, a de facto acknowledgment that there is a chance the transferred patient may have COVID-19.

The province cannot claim they did not know any better. If this were the case, why did they insist on more stringent measures be put in place to test and lockdown Albertans who are not in care homes? Not only are Albertans who are exposed to COVID-19 instructed to stay isolated in their homes, but they are only instructed to leave home in order to get a scheduled test for the virus. 

The Alberta government recommends people get tested for COVID-19 if they were in close contact with someone with the virus but for some reason, seniors being transferred out of hospitals, where there are people being treated with COVID,  are not tes…

The Alberta government recommends people get tested for COVID-19 if they were in close contact with someone with the virus but for some reason, seniors being transferred out of hospitals, where there are people being treated with COVID, are not tested because they aren’t currently showing symptoms.

By contrast, with our most vulnerable in the care system, we are not testing for COVID before they have been reintroduced to their residencies around a large population of vulnerable people co-mingling freely in a congregate setting. Why are so few questioning the succession of outbreaks that have been happening in long-term care settings?.

When The National Telegraph reached out to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, and members of his staff, as well as AHS, about the care home issue, we received one copy-paste response less than an hour after sending our first media request. Since then, despite multiple follow-up requests, we have received no response.

(Photo from CTV News Calgary)

(Photo from CTV News Calgary)

Our first media request asking for records or information pertaining to the transfer of potentially COVID positive seniors from hospitals to care homes received the following response from Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s Issues Manager.

The AHS response says that they would not “knowingly” or “intentionally” transfer a COVID-19 positive patient back to a care home, but not only is that a clear obfuscation of the information requested, but it ignores the fact AHS has been instructing healthcare professionals not to test asymptomatic seniors. AHS has little way of knowing much of anything about the people they transferred back to the care homes. 

Screen Shot 2021-03-05 at 3.39.25 PM.png

The Alberta government’s flaky reply when asked serious questions about their management of patient transfers to care homes is perfectly in line with their ongoing inability to present COVID-19 statistics specifically regarding care homes. 

It feels a lot like the situation that took place in New York state with Governor Andrew Cuomo. Kenney and Shandro may have not lied about care home deaths, but through their lack of information provided to the public, they are knowingly under-informing people about the COVID-19 situation in Alberta, and how much the government may be responsible.

(Photo from BBC)

(Photo from BBC)

Estimates indicate anywhere from 65 percent to over 80 percent of COVID-related deaths have taken place in long-term care homes, which, if true, makes lockdowns on the general public, restaurant closures, mask mandates, and the jailing of pastors feel unwarranted as the real danger is localized in care homes and in large part due to poor AHS policy.

The ball is in the provincial government’s court to defend their record on protecting the most vulnerable in society. At the end of the day, everyone just wants honesty, transparency, and accountability so we truly have a Path Forward – as Kenney described – and a way out of this crisis.

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 “The Alberta Government has turned Care Homes into Outbreak Centres”

  1. Sanford says:

    A body count was needed to kick off the great reset. Similar action was taken all over the western world but now we need to trust the experts and take an experimental shot or two or three or annual boosters and such.

  2. George Pratt says:

    I have reached the sorr conclusion that the Alberta government is incompetent from Kenney, down through Shandro, to the middle managers of the civil service.