Kenney says Alberta won’t wait for Health Canada to ‘play catch up’ on COVID-19 test, drug approvals

By Catherine Griwkowsky April 14, 2020

Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta will not be “constrained” by Health Canada’s “bureaucracy” when it comes to the use of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. 
During an appearance on CBC’s Power & Politics Monday night, the premier said he is willing to follow the lead of other credible health regulators, such as the European Union’s regulator or the FDA, rather than wait for Ottawa to “play catch up” with authorizing treatments. 
“We’re not going to feel constrained under our Public Health Act waiting for Ottawa to do what other highly sophisticated jurisdictions” are doing with test, drug and vaccine approvals.  
Kenney also accused Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam of repeating “talking points” from China early in the pandemic. 
On Monday, the province announced it will spend $286,000 to fund a study on hydroxychloroquine to determine whether the anti-malarial drug can be used to prevent hospitalization for those at highest risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19. 
Dubbed the “Alberta Hope” project, the study will be headed up by the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta and Alberta Health Services. 
U.S. President Donald Trump has extolled the potential virtues of hydroxychloroquine for treating the virus, but its effectiveness is so far unproven. 
The drug is currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. 
Alberta sending PPE to other provinces, wants recognition of oil sector’s contribution
Meanwhile, Alberta is sending 750,000 much-needed N95 masks to provinces hit harder by the COVID-19 crisis. 
Kenney announced the PPE donations, which are heading to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, in front of a backdrop of boxes at Alberta Health Services’ warehouse Saturday. 
Along with the much-needed N95s, Alberta is also supplying its fellow provinces with seven million surgical masks and 30 million gloves. Ontario will also receive 50 ventilators and 87,000 goggles. 
The shipments will be sent out this week. 
Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the province has an “ample supply” of medical goods to get Albertans through the virus’s peak, which is expected in mid-May. 
However, the announcement follows direction from health officials that Alberta frontline workers will have to reuse sterilized equipment.
For his part, Kenney wants Ontario, Quebec and B.C. to “recognize in this contribution the generous role Albertans always played across the country” through its extraction of resources, namely oil.
“People’s lives are at stake, and we are going to look past disagreements to saving lives, saving Canadians lives, helping our fellow Canadians,” Kenney said.