NDP call for more action to protect homeless

by Morinville News Staff

The NDP says not enough is being done to protect Alberta’s homeless, particularly in Calgary where four new cases of COVID-19 were identified at the Calgary Drop-In Centre and Salvation Army shelter in Calgary.

The NDP Opposition says they raised concerns about an outbreak in shelters some weeks ago, questioning whether the congregated living setup at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary was really the best plan.

“I raised this issue weeks ago and it was completely brushed off by Minister Sawney,” said MLA Marie Renaud, NDP Opposition Critic for Community and Social Services. “People who live rough or who experience homelessness are at higher risk of catching COVID-19 and they have no ability to self-isolate, the UCP should have made plans much sooner to protect them and provide adequate housing during this pandemic.”

The NDP cites other Canadian cities that have secured hotel rooms for their entire homeless population, something they say the UCP would only do in cases of infection. The NDP is also critical that some Alberta shelters have only provided space for one metre of separation between residents when sleeping, rather than the recommended two-metres of social distancing.

The Opposition is also calling on the government to provide and pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) to all shelter employees.

“These frontline heroes are putting their lives on the line to care for vulnerable Albertans,” Renaud said. “The least we can do is provide them with equipment that could literally be the difference between life and death. One week ago, my colleague, Health Critic David Shepherd, called for a full list of organizations eligible for PPE shipments from the province. To date, the Government hasn’t said a word in response to his call. Their silence is deafening.”

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