The UCP government’s woefully inadequate response to what is likely the worst pediatric E. Coli outbreak in Canadian history continues to fuel mistrust in this government’s ability to respond to public health crises. Today, Public Interest Alberta and Friends of Medicare are calling for an immediate and independent public inquiry into all entities involved – both government and non-government.
Health officials say the number of affected Albertans continues to climb, with 264 lab confirmed cases so far – a jump from 231 since Monday while 25 Albertans are currently in hospital.
“It is completely unacceptable that it took a catastrophic E. Coli outbreak to prompt a full environmental inspection,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “We demand a full accounting of why this facility was continuing to operate despite clear health and safety issues.”
Alberta Health Services did not conduct a full environmental inspection until September 5th after an outbreak was declared. This inspection came only after a series of citations going back to 2021, calling into question the overall health and safety oversight within Alberta’s child care system.
“For days, families were left in the dark with no word or action from the Premier, Ministers or Chief Medical Officer of Health, while hundreds of young children became sick,” said Chris Gallaway, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “This is an appalling and unacceptable lack of leadership from the government.”
In addition to a public inquiry, the UCP government must review and update its regulations, policies and procedures regarding investigations, safety, and quality assurance in child care facilities.
“It is not ‘red tape’ to ensure kids aren’t exposed for days on end to a potentially deadly bacteria with no government response,” said Lafortune. “It’s horrifying that our system of public health and child care is operating in such a way that this could happen – Albertans have had their trust broken.
“We can’t accept words without action,” said Gallaway. “It’s not a coincidence that the lack of a proactive response to this horrifying crisis happened at the same time as cuts and privatization continue to weaken our public health and health care systems.”