Edmonton

Tyler Shandro out, Jason Copping in as Alberta's health minister

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has shuffled his cabinet. Tyler Shandro leaves the health portfolio for labour and immigration. Jason Copping moves from labour and immigration to become the province's health minister.

Premier Jason Kenney says Shandro offered to resign

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro was shuffled out of the health portfolio on Tuesday afternoon. Jason Copping takes over as health minister. (Todd Korol/The Canadian Press)

Tyler Shandro is out as Alberta's health minister and Jason Copping is taking over the key cabinet position.

Premier Jason Kenney shuffled his cabinet Tuesday in a short swearing-in ceremony at Government House.

Shandro and Copping are swapping portfolios.

Shandro takes over as the minister of labour and immigration.

Premier Jason Kenney made changes to his cabinet at a ceremony at Government House in Edmonton on September 21, 2021. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

At a news conference later in the day, Kenney said Shandro had offered his resignation. 

"He and I both came to the conclusion that it would be best to get a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh start at the health ministry," Kenney said.

He noted the role was particularly difficult during the pandemic and referenced an incident where protesters threatened Shandro over the UCP government's COVID-19 restrictions.

WATCH | Kenney shuffles health minister as Alberta battles 4th wave of COVID-19:

Kenney shuffles health minister as hospitals near capacity

2 months ago
2:01
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney named former labour minister Jason Copping the new health minister after shuffling Tyler Shandro out of the role as the province’s hospitals near capacity and Kenney faces growing calls for his own resignation. 2:01

"It has been a gruelling two-plus years for Tyler," Kenney said. "I was there myself and saw he and his family being chased and assaulted by anti-vaccine protesters and all of that I know has taken a real toll on Minister Shandro."

Copping also spoke for the first time as health minister. 

"I am deeply committed to helping steer the province through this current crisis and on to better days," Copping said. 

He outlined three key priorities: increasing hospital capacity, educating vaccine-hesitant Albertans to get more people immunized and preparing the health system to response to potential future waves of COVID-19.

"I will be stepping into this vital role and executing on these priorities."

The shuffle comes as Alberta is struggling with a devastating fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and Kenney faces turmoil within his own caucus.

WATCH | The CBC's Power Panel discuss change to Premier Jason Kenney's cabinet:

Premier Jason Kenney shuffles Alberta health minister out of portfolio

2 months ago
13:17
Alberta's health minister, Tyler Shandro, has been replaced with Jason Copping, who was previously the provincial minister of labour and immigration. The Power Panel discuss this sudden change to Premier Jason Kenney's cabinet. 13:17

The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the province's health-care system, bringing it to the brink of collapse.

Also Tuesday, Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver issued a letter to the federal government asking for help dealing with the crush of patients. 

However, Kenney insisted his government asked federal agencies for backup measures as a precaution. 

"We do not currently need the support and we do not have an imminent need of it, but it's prudent to plan for things in case we reach a worst-case scenario." 

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 29 people died of COVID-19 in the past day.

Some were double vaccinated and had pre-existing conditions, Hinshaw said, but most were not vaccinated. 

Alberta reported more than 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 with 996 in hospital and 222 in intensive care units. 

There were 20,917 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta as of Tuesday — more than twice as many as any other province or territory. 

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