Calgary council wants province to share data and recommendations that led to easing of restrictions

Calgary city council voted in favour of Mayor Jyoti Gondek asking the province to share the recommendations made by the chief medical officer of health as well as the data used to inform Tuesday's announcement that the restrictions exemption program was ending.

City council also voted down possibility of a local restrictions exemption program

Jyoti Gondek speaks to the media after being sworn-in as the new mayor of Calgary in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Oct. 25, 2021.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Wednesday on Twitter that the concerns of municipalities were not being heard by the province, which is lifting COVID-19 restrictions. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Calgary city council has voted in favour of having Mayor Jyoti Gondek formally ask the province to share the recommendations made by the chief medical officer of health as well as the data used to inform Tuesday's announcement about a three-step plan to ease public health measures.

However, it voted against asking staff to look into the possibility of creating a local vaccine passport program. 

At midnight Tuesday, the provincial restrictions exemption program was lifted, meaning Albertans stopped having to show their QR code to dine in restaurants or sit at entertainment venues. 

"It is clear that we passed the peak of our current infections about three weeks ago and are now seeing the result as COVID-related hospital admissions are declining," Premier Jason Kenney said at a news conference on Tuesday. 

"It has always been the government's approach to keep public health measures in place only so long as they are absolutely necessary to protect public health and our health-care system throughout the pandemic."

The end of the provincial restrictions exemption program meant the automatic expiry of the city's corresponding bylaw.

However, there is doubt among some politicians on whether these public health measures are truly no longer necessary.

On Wednesday morning, Gondek said on Twitter that "municipalities felt sidelined" and the concerns of many were not being heard by the province.

In an 9-5 vote, council voted in favour of getting access to the information that was "used to inform the recommendations" announced on Feb. 8. 

Councillors Sean Chu, Andre Chabot, Sonya Sharp, Richard Pootmans and Dan McLean voted against this request for information. 

Local restrictions exemption program voted down

It doesn't appear council wants to pursue a local vaccine passport program, though. 

Following a 10-4 vote against that idea, Coun. Kourtney Penner said it seems unlikely a local program would be pursued.

"My council colleagues recognize that is work that we would have to undertake and that is not something that they're comfortable giving direction to administration to do, and also understanding with the gap in provincial data, it makes it more difficult for us to make some of those evidence-based decisions."

Meanwhile, Edmonton city council voted unanimously on Wednesday to have administration look into the implications of a municipal vaccine passport program for city-owned facilities and private businesses.

In a statement, the city of Calgary said the face covering bylaw will still remain in effect, and a mask will still be required for anyone over the age of two to enter indoor public spaces or public vehicles.

With files from Scott Dippel