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AB Government: Weekly overview of COVID-19 action plan
The province’s $13-billion comprehensive pandemic response prioritizes Albertans’ health and safety as they begin to return to work.
Provincial response to COVID-19 outbreak, May 17-23
- Calgary and Brooks to relaunch more businesses on May 25 after a significant decline in the number of active COVID-19 cases (May 22).
- Supports for hotels and other lodging providers to allow them to keep tourism levy amounts collected between March 1 and December 31, 2020, and help position the sector for economic recovery (May 19).
- Investment of more than $170 million to keep residents and staff in long-term care, designated supportive living facilities and seniors lodges safe from COVID-19 (May 19).
- Enacting the strongest public health measures in the country for international travellers to help prevent travel-related virus spread (May 20).
- Additional $250 million in capital funding for school divisions to accelerate maintenance work and create thousands of jobs (May 20).
- New funding for the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association for online tools to help retailers, wholesalers, restaurants and the food service industry use more locally sourced food as they meet increased demand (May 21).
- Increase in health services such as voluntary COVID-19 testing for long-term care and some designated supportive living facilities, the resumption of non-urgent surgeries and the return of maternity services at locations in Calgary and High River (May 22).
- Working with the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation to help process producers claims on the more than one million insured acres of crops due to poor harvest weather and early snowfall (May 22).
Provincial response prior to May 17
Health and emergency management
- Collaboration with health partners since January to ensure proven processes and well-trained teams were in place to both protect the public and respond to infections before any COVID-19 cases were present in Alberta.
- Online resources such as alberta.ca/COVID19 and the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 online self-assessment tool.
- Series of aggressive public health measures to limit the spread of the virus, including restrictions on mass gatherings, prohibiting attendance and limiting visitation at many facilities and restricting capacity at restaurants and other food service locations (began March 12).
- Additional $500 million for Budget 2020 to ensure Alberta’s public health officials have the resources they need to deal with the pandemic (March 15).
- New billing code for pharmacists working to help Albertans assess and screen for COVID-19 (March 19).
- Instituted a state of public health emergency under the Public Health Act to empower authorities to respond to the pandemic (March 17).
- Access to health-care information and support from anywhere in the province by smartphone through the Babylon app by TELUS Health (March 19).
- Amended the Emergency Management Act to allow local and provincial states of emergency to exist at the same time, helping communities and the province respond effectively to emergencies (March 20).
- Increased availability of childcare spaces for workers providing core services during COVID-19 (March 22).
- Updated Albertans on potential fraudulent activities such as identity theft and how to respond appropriately (March 22).
- Set up the Alberta Bits and Pieces Program in response to growing offers of generosity from Alberta individuals and organizations (March 22).
- New approach to COVID-19 testing that prioritizes groups at the highest risk of local exposure and at-risk populations (March 23).
- New temporary virtual care billing codes for physicians to allow Albertans to receive medical advice while maintaining a safe physical distance (March 23).
- Collaboration with municipalities to ensure homeless shelters across the province can create more capacity to meet local needs (March 23).
- Law enforcement agencies granted full authority to enforce public health orders and issue fines to ensure isolation orders are being followed (March 25).
- Collaboration with food supply industry to ensure Albertans continue to have access to safe, affordable food as the COVID-19 response continues (March 26).
- Automobile access to provincial parks, parking lots and staging areas on public land restricted to align with measures in place at national parks to prevent the spread of the virus. Facilities such as washrooms also closed (March 27).
- Additional restrictions and prohibitions on gatherings and attendance at non-essential businesses and organizations to safeguard employees and the public (March 27).
- A 90-day extension for most drivers requiring a medical evaluation to apply for a licence renewal, reducing strain on the health-care system. (March 27).
- Indigenous Relations working with federal and Indigenous governments to ensure all Albertans benefit from pandemic planning and response (March 28).
- Alberta Health Services (AHS) partnership with Spartan Bioscience to provide rapid COVID-19 testing for Alberta (March 30).
- Bill 10, Public Health (Emergency Powers) Amendment Act, 2020, provides law enforcement agencies full authority to enforce public health orders during a pandemic (came into force April 2).
- Expanded eligibility for select licensed childcare centres to improve access for essential workers (April 1).
- Sharing resources between provincial and federal meat inspectors to increase food inspector capacity and ensure a consistent supply of safe food products (April 1).
- New orders on controlling outbreaks in facilities such as group and nursing homes to ensure public health authorities are informed and operators are well-trained and deployed where they are needed most (April 2).
- New funding for non-profit organizations to provide additional food assistance for vulnerable K-12 students and families totalling $3 million (April 2).
- More than 1,100 offers of support in the form of vital resources and supplies received from private and non-profit organizations through the government’s Bits and Pieces program.
- Albertans encouraged to stay active and adopt healthy habits with the #HealthyatHomeAB challenge as they adapt their lifestyles to the conditions created by the outbreak (April 5).
- Amended the Emergency Management Act to provide greater clarity and improved coordination between local and provincial response efforts (April 7).
- Implemented a provincewide ban on visitors to long-term care centres, licensed group homes and other facilities to protect the health of vulnerable Albertans (April 7).
- Targeted supports for youth and families through Family Resource Networks that deliver prevention and early intervention services through a provincial network of community-based service providers (April 7).
- Thorough modelling projections for the COVID-19 outbreak to help experts anticipate and prepare for the expected demands on Alberta’s health system and guide government’s response efforts (April 8).
- Temporary modifications to truck driver and railway operator regulations to protect the supply chain and ensure Canadians can access necessities like medical supplies, groceries and fuel during the COVID-19 crisis (April 9).
- Expansion of the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary to help one of the province’s busiest hospitals meet increased patient needs during the pandemic, made possible by a temporary structure donation from Alberta-based Sprung Structures (April 9).
- Expanded COVID-19 testing eligibility criteria to better trace the spread of the virus in hard-hit areas and vulnerable populations (April 9).
- Temporary changes to several acts and regulations to help businesses, public bodies and non-profits remain compliant as they focus their efforts on responding to COVID-19 (April 10).
- Fact sheet available to help parents and caregivers have open, honest conversations with young Albertans about COVID-19 and the measures taken to prevent the spread (April 10).
- Additional support of $5 million for food banks and community organizations, such as charities and not-for-profits, as they support secure access to food for vulnerable Albertans (April 10).
- New requirements for continuing care workers, including continuous masking and working at only one location, to protect vulnerable populations (April 10).
- Contributing masks, nitrile gloves, goggles and ventilators to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia to help support health-care systems across Canada (April 11).
- Government is matching charitable donations up to $2 million for organizations responding to the ongoing pandemic to ensure services are delivered to the Albertans who need them most (April 12).
- Provincewide clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 in those people at the highest risk of developing severe symptoms (April 13).
- Further expansion of testing criteria so that any individual exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath, is now eligible (April 13).
- Expedited distribution of personal protective equipment to non-Alberta Health Services facilities such as pharmacies, disability service providers, social service and civil society groups, and independent medical clinics to ensure these locations are equipped to help stop the spread (April 14).
- Additional $3 million in funding for Caregivers Alberta to expand supports for caregivers during the pandemic and into the future (April 14).
- Investment of $53 million into improving access to mental health and addiction recovery services, supports and resources for all Albertans during and after the pandemic (April 15).
- New intergovernmental business resumption protocol for provincially and federally licensed food-processing facilities in Alberta to protect the health and safety of vital workers while ensuring a stable food supply in Alberta (April 16).
- Increased pay flexibility for physicians to help them adjust their practices to provide care for Albertans during the pandemic (April 16).
- Alberta Health is working with employers and Alberta Health Services to expand testing to asymptomatic residents and staff in continuing care facilities and outbreak sites in the coming days. All workers from all companies at outbreak sites will be offered this opportunity (April 17).
- Suspension and refunds for Alberta Parks camping reservations to be kept in place until the health and public safety risk from COVID-19 is reduced (April 17).
- Support for Volunteer Alberta to recognize the incredible work volunteers have done as the foundation of Alberta’s COVID-19 response (April 19).
- Increased funding for continuing care facilities to raise health-care aide staffing levels and alleviate pressures in contracted continuing care facilities (April 20).
- Amendments to the Family and Community Support Services program to temporarily allow funding to be used for food supply issues during the pandemic (April 20).
- Locations of all active outbreaks in acute care and continuing care facilities are updated online (April 21).
- New Alberta Care Connector tool to connect Albertans with volunteer opportunities in the province so they can continue to provide support to those in need (April 22).
- Gathering restrictions currently in place were confirmed to apply to one-time or annual summer events (April 23).
- Voluntary contact tracing mobile app is under development and is expected to be available to all Albertans in the coming weeks (April 23).
- Significant investments in rural health care to ensure communities outside of major cities can continue to recruit and retain physicians and health services (April 24).
- Select registry services offered remotely through alternative delivery methods to ensure Albertans have access to necessary services while helping prevent the spread (April 28).
- Updated COVID-19 modelling data released to keep Albertans informed on the possible pandemic scenarios as the virus approaches its peak (April 28).
- Physical distancing exemptions for those engaged in flood suppression and prevention activities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (April 29).
- Strategy in place involving prevention, preparedness, rapid response, timely notification and outbreak management to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks (April 29).
- New public orders to help with the continued protection of residents in long-term care and supportive living, as well as improving their quality of life (April 29).
- Guidance to support Cargill Canada beef-processing plant as it takes aggressive measures to protect the health and safety of workers and keep Canada’s food supply chain strong (April 30).
- Phased relaunch strategy in place that puts Albertans’ safety first as the province gradually reopen closed businesses and services and get people back to work (April 30).
- New ABTraceTogether app to enhance current manual tracing processes and help Albertans prevent community spread by quickly alerting people who may be at risk. The app is now available from the Apple App Store and Google Play (May 1).
- Funding for new virus-detecting equipment and technology that will more than double Alberta’s maximum COVID-19 daily testing capacity (May 5).
- Changes to nursing home regulations to remove barriers for nurse practitioners and expand care provision so they can better protect Alberta’s most vulnerable during the pandemic (May 4).
- Carefully controlled and phased approach to resume some non-urgent surgeries and other health services as part of the relaunch strategy (May 4).
- Order that allows for individual COVID-19 test results to be provided to police if the individual has deliberately created a transmission risk by coughing, sneezing or spitting on an officer (May 4).
- Order to expand the number of health-care practitioners who are able to assist in contact tracing after completing appropriate training, such as chiropractors, paramedics, pharmacists and more (May 4).
- Increased access to COVID-19 testing for police officers and health-care practitioners who are able to help with contact tracing (May 5).
- Engaging the education system on a comprehensive re-entry plan to prepare options for staff and students to return safely to schools (May 6).
- Price gouging charges laid against retailer selling personal protective equipment at grossly-inflated prices so Albertans can continue to shop for vital supplies with confidence (May 8).
- Increased funding for the Community Initiatives Program Operating grant to help front-line non-profits continue caring for vulnerable Albertans during the outbreak (May 12).
- Information resources on non-medical masks, including how to use them and what to consider when making or buying them, available online (May 14).
- New funding for emergency social services such as food banks and support centres to address the social well-being of those most affected by COVID-19, including seniors and other vulnerable groups (May 15).
- Limits extended for outside gatherings to a maximum of 50 people. Physical distancing measures continue between people from different households (May 15).
- Protecting the supply chain by safely resuming limited road tests for commercial carriers (May 15).
- $60 million to help social services organizations respond to critical front-line services (March 17).
- Series of energy sector initiatives for Alberta’s energy sector:
- funding the industry levy of the Alberta Energy Regulator for a period of six months, achieving $113 million in industry relief
- granting extensions for oil and gas tenures
- $100-million loan to the Orphan Well Association (March 20)
- Established the Economic Recovery Council to provide advice through the downturn that comes as a result of COVID-19 and the energy price crash (March 20).
- Lower copayments for prescriptions for Alberta government-sponsored coverage for seniors and non-group coverage to assist with added associated costs.
- To bridge the gap until federal benefits became available, government provided a one-time payment for working Albertans who have significantly lost income and must self-isolate (March 18). The temporary Emergency Isolation Support program is now closed, as the federal Canadian Emergency Response Benefit is available.
- Six-month interest-free moratorium on student loan payments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans (March 18).
- Utility payment deferral for residential, farm and small commercial customers who are expecting financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19 (March 18).
- ATB Financial deferral for up to six months on loans, lines of credit, and mortgages for personal and small business customers impacted by COVID-19 (March 18).
- Programs for individual and business Alberta credit union members to ease difficulties with loan payments and short-term cash flow (March 18).
- Deferred collection of corporate income tax balances and instalment payments for Alberta businesses (March 18).
- Employment Standards Code changes to provide job protected leave for Albertans who need to self-isolate (March 13).
- Licensed restaurants and bars can sell liquor without selling food as part of their take-out – with the exception of drive-thru windows – and delivery services to help keep businesses open, staff employed and additional options for Albertans isolating (March 17).
- Upcoming expiry dates for Alberta drivers’ licences, identification cards, vehicle registrations, other permits and certificates extended until May 15 (March 17).
- New measures to protect renters from eviction, rent increases and late fees to relieve the immediate financial burdens brought on by the COVID-19 crisis (March 27).
- Protection for Albertans and Alberta employers through an education property tax freeze and deferral, and Workers’ Compensation Board premium deferrals (March 23).
- Indigenous community consultations are paused at the community’s request for as long as recommendations for isolation remain in place (March 26).
- Delays in requirements for hotels and other lodging providers to pay the tourism levy until Aug. 31 to free up cash flow for employers to maintain staff and operations (March 27).
- Temporary adjustment to K-12 education funding to reflect the cost of at-home learning by students during the pandemic (March 28).
- Investment of $1.5 billion in the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline to accelerate construction, create jobs for Albertans and ensure it is operational by 2023 (March 31).
- Introduction of Bill 11, Tenancies Statues (Emergency Provisions) Amendment Act, 2020, which will ensure no one can be retroactively charged for residential rent increase or late fees while the state of public health emergency is in effect, if passed (March 31).
- Introduction of Bill 12, Liabilities Management Statutes Amendment Act, 2020, which will provide greater authority for the Orphan Well Association to fast-track well and site cleanup work and boost employment in the oil services sector, if passed (March 31).
- Suspension of hospital parking fees for health-care workers and the general public to make worksite transitions easier for health-care professionals and reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread from touch screens and buttons at payment sites (April 2).
- Deferral of timber dues for six months to help ensure forestry companies can continue operations and retain staff during the pandemic (April 4).
- Additional changes to the Employment Standards legislation to provide unpaid, job-protected leave for employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or isolated family members (April 6).
- Doubled capital maintenance and renewal (CMR) funding in 2020-21 from $937 million to $1.9 billion by accelerating the capital plan, getting thousands of Albertans back to work resurfacing roads, repairing bridges, restoring schools, fixing potholes and more (April 9).
- Adjustments to operations to allow employers to appropriately respond to public health measures and allow employees to remain attached to jobs and access federal assistance programs (April 6).
- Deferment of specific reporting requirements for energy companies to help this vital industry deal with the devastating downturn caused by COVID-19 (April 8).
- One-stop Business Link support for small businesses to help connect them with COVID-19 supports that meet their unique business needs with services such as one-on-one guidance, webinars, expert sessions legal and financial specialists, and more (April 9).
- New online resource helping connect out-of-work Albertans with opportunities in the critical agriculture sector to fill jobs and keep the food supply chain operational (April 9).
- Accelerating construction of five new schools to help get Albertans back to work on shovel-ready projects (April 14).
- Extensions for Indigenous communities that need more time for industry consultations during the pandemic so projects that have met the adequate requirements can move ahead and keep Albertans working while limiting harm to essential workers (April 20).
- New Alberta advocate appointed to Washington, D.C. to play vital role in the post-COVID-19 recovery period while seeking opportunities to facilitate investment, bilateral trade and strengthen relations (April 24).
- New Site Rehabilitation Program to provide grants to oilfield service contractors to perform well, pipeline and oil and gas site reclamation work and create about 5,300 direct jobs while cleaning up thousands of sites (April 24).
- Commercial rent relief for small businesses that have been required to close or limit their operations to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic (April 24).
- New Forest Jobs Action Plan to ensure long-term fibre access for foresters facing significant economic pressures (May 4).
- Investments in highway and bridge maintenance projects and pot hole repairs in the Fort McMurray, North-Central, Central, Southern and Peace regions to create thousands of jobs (May 4 – 7).
- Continuing capital maintenance and renewal upgrades at the Red Deer and Lac La Biche Provincial Buildings to keep Albertans working during difficult times (May 5 – 6).
- New Agricultural Industry Advisory Committee to provide strategic advice and recommendations and stand up for Alberta’s second-largest natural resource sector (May 5).
- Investment in Peace River Correctional Centre maintenance projects to support local job creation (May 5).
- Grant support for child care centres and approved family day home agencies to ensure they are ready to safely restart and support families through Alberta’s economic recovery (May 6).
- Accelerated procurement process for construction of the Red Deer Justice Centre to get Albertans back to work (May 7).
- New supports for Alberta’s agriculture industry through AgriRecovery, such as a new fed cattle set-aside program and compensation for products facing massive consumption drops during the pandemic (May 7).
- New Agriculture Training Support Program to offset costs for COVID-19 safety and training and remove barriers that may prevent Albertans from safely working in critical positions (May 8).
- Passed the Utility Payment Deferral Program Act to allow Albertans experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19 to defer their natural gas and electricity utility payments until June 18 (May 8).
- Stage one of Alberta’s relaunch strategy gradually lifts restrictions to support the economy and get Albertans back to work while remaining vigilant in the fight against COVID-19 (May 13).
- New online CORE hub to co-ordinate community services for older Albertans and seniors during the pandemic and beyond (May 10).
- Online resources to support businesses reopening during stage one of the relaunch and keep staff and customers safe at alberta.ca/biz-connect.aspx (May 11).
- The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene.
- This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately.
- Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.
- For recommendations on protecting yourself and your community, visit alberta.ca/COVID19.
Communications Director, Communications and Public Engagement
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