UCP slips behind NDP in polls

Amidst harsh criticisms and the reciprocating staunch defence to the United Conservative Party government’s response to the second wave of the COVID-19 virus, polls are starting to show that Albertan’s are increasingly in favour of a change at the top. 

An Environics Research poll commissioned by the Canadian Union of Public Employees surveyed 1,205 Albertas between Nov. 10-23. The results show that if an election were held now, Jason Kenney and the UCP would be sent packing and the NDPs Rachel Notley would sweep in to form government. 

To be clear, the next Alberta election isn’t until 2023 and the impact of this poll on that race is less than nil.

However, the numbers do show growing discontent at this time with the Provincial government. 

The poll found 47% of decided voters would support Notley and the NDP, which is up from 33% in the 2019 election. The UCP support came in at 40%, down 54% from 2019. 

The data shows that public opinion sways in favour of the NDP in the Edmonton and Calgary regions.

Only 33% of those polled said they could trust Jason Kenney to tell the truth, while 50% said they trust Notley. 

When asked, 69% of respondents to the poll opposed the outsourcing of 11,000 health care workers that was announced in October.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill wasn’t surprised.

“Jason Kenney has broken almost every promise he made,” Gill said in release to media that accompanied the polling data his union commissioned. “He promised jobs - we’ve lost hundred of thousands of them. He promised no cuts to front line services - he’s laid off education and health care workers across the province.”

Gill also criticized Kenney’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “He’s said he wants to protect the economy, but our case count is growing so fast it’s hurting our economy deeply.

“Alberta has the second highest COVID-19 levels in Canada and instead of taking action to fight the pandemic, Jason Kenney is picking fights with doctors and firing health care workers.”  

Premier Kenney was asked for comment on the recent polling data by Yeg City, but we have yet to receive a response. 

After the government announced new province-wide restrictions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic Nov. 24, many have said the measures do not go far enough. Terms such as “Mockdown” and “Lockdown Lite” have sprung up on social media comparing Alberta's new measures to other provinces across the country.

Dr. Shazme Mithani, an Emergency Room doctor in Edmonton took to Twitter to vent her frustration. 

“After much needed sleep, I’ve finally been able to wrap my head around yesterday’s new measures,” she wrote on a post dated Nov. 25. “Aside from a couple of poorly chosen or meaningless closures, the recommendations have just essentially changed the previous (ones) into rules. No indoor gatherings, period. This is the only step that I feel is appropriate. These should have been stopped long ago.”

The problem with the new measures, she says, are that they allow bars, restaurants and faith-based organizations to continue to operate (albeit at reduced capacity) which “still allows for unnecessary and dangerous gathering of the public.”

Places of worship can have one-third of capacity, which means that in some large spaces, hundreds can still gather to take prayer.

“This should be virtual only,” Dr. Mithani wrote.

In addition, bars, casinos and restaurants remain open. 

“Right,” she says, “we aren’t allowed to gather in our homes, but we can with others at bars and casinos.”

All of the recommendations were made with missing data, Dr. Mithani noted. Since contact tracing in the province has collapsed, accurate information is not available to decision makers on which places are more of a risk to promote community spread and which have a relatively low chance of being a location where someone may have contracted COVID-19. 

This raises question marks around how the government decided what will close and what will remain open. 

As for the healthcare system? 

“Honestly, we are screwed,” Dr. Mithani wrote. 

“The numbers will continue to rise of the next two weeks while we hope that these half measures work. Our ICUs are nearly (if not already) full, our ERs are seeing sicker patients (COVID and not).”

As of the latest data released during Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw's yesterday, Alberta has a total 14,052 active cases. Of those, 383 are in hospital care, 84 in ICU. To date there have been 510 deaths in the province. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Alberta has had 51,878 confirmed cases. Far behind Ontario and Quebec, but despite there being a massive difference in the population of these provinces and Alberta, Wild Rose Country has this month caught up to - and even occasionally surpassed - Quebec and Ontario for new daily cases.

Mike Carter reporting for Yeg City

Write Mike at mikecarterwrites@gmail.com


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