Albertans are under financial and economic stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Premier Jason Kenney says there is a plan for recovery in place.
In a televised address Tuesday, Kenney outlined the province’s coronavirus projections, adding that the current health order will remain in place until the end of May.
He stated that once the virus begins to slow down in the province, a relaunch strategy can be implemented to help the economy recover and manage the prevention of a second wave.
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“Once we are past the peak and can begin relaxing these rules, we will implement our relaunch strategy, our plan gradually to open up our economy while preventing a second wave of the virus,” said Kenney in his address.
So far, the province has given Alberta Health Services an additional $500 million to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
The response plan involves a number of steps, including expanding testing, tracing, screening, and enforcement for coronavirus.
“Our plan is for Alberta to turn around as many as 20,000 tests a day,” said Kenney.
“We are determined to continue leading the world in testing: the foundation of our relaunch strategy.”
The province also aims to better trace the close contacts of those who are infected, along with screening and quarantining international arrivals.
“We will encourage and facilitate the use of masks in crowded public spaces, like mass transit.”
Kenney noted using smart phones to enforce quarantine orders, but he didn’t elaborate on what this would mean for the privacy of Albertans.
“We will strictly enforce quarantine orders to ensure compliance, including using technology like smart phone apps, when appropriate.”
While the province continues to manage the spread of coronavirus around Alberta, the financial implications are grave, said Kenney, including a budget deficit of almost $20 billion.
“We expect a global economic recovery from COVID-19 later this year. But the crash in energy prices means that Alberta’s downturn will be deeper, and our recovery slower.”
As a result, the province has appointed an Economic Recovery Council to manage Alberta’s economic response to coronavirus and offer financial support directly to Albertans.
“We have taken extraordinary action to help families and employers, committing $12 billion to our COVID-19 Action Plan,” said Kenney.
“That includes over two dozen initiatives, like deferrals on taxes, mortgages, utility payments, and student loans; extra money for homeless shelters and charities serving the isolated; and emergency isolation payments.”
Kenney stated the province will also invest in job-creating infrastructure projects to support Albertans.
“We will get through this storm together.”