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RMWB Council seeks more in-depth COVID-19 reporting

IMAGE. Supplied the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

RMWB Council voted for Mayor Scott to write Alberta Health Services asking for in-depth reporting of COVID-19 cases.

As of April 5, there are two active cases of COVID-19 among Wood Buffalo’s rural areas.

To date, AHS did not disclose the location of these cases.

The Alberta Health Ministry would also receive the letter from the Mayor’s office.

Councillor Jane Stroud introduced a motion to help provide clarity for residents.

“THAT the Mayor be authorized on behalf of Council to send a letter to the Minister of Health and Alberta Health Services requesting that the provincial reporting, including the geospatial information online, on COVID-19 be expanded to identify geographical areas inside the RMWB including the rural and indigenous communities.”

According to 2018 Census data, Stroud said the shadow population of Wood Buffalo is 36,678.

This includes people living in the region’s rural communities, and work camps.

Stroud said AHS should upload more in-depth reporting.

“We’re asking AHS to identify either the community, First Nations, or camp accommodations where there are the confirmed cases of COVID-19 and update the online AHS map accordingly.”

RMWB Council voted 10 – 1 to approve Stroud’s motion.

Councillor Sheila Lalonde, who dissented, pointed to the relatively small size of rural communities like Saprae Creek, Conklin, and Janvier and potential privacy concerns.

“As a resident, I think I would have an issue if my private health was posted online.”

Lalonde added if would be safer to assume everyone is asymptomatic and continue to follow public health orders.

Stroud responded saying AHS reports cases for the small town of McLennan, Alta.

According to 2016 Census data, the northwestern Alberta town housed 701 residents.

On April 12, the Canadian Press reported at least four deaths from COVID-19 at McLennan’s Manoir Du Lac long-term care facility.

Mayor Don Scott agreed with Stroud saying many residents reached out to him expressing concern in their communities.

“We have struggled [to get] clear answers from AHS from time to time. If there is information out there that can replace rumour, then let’s get the facts out there.”

He said he hopes the letter would encourage AHS to provide residents of Wood Buffalo with that information.

The next regularly scheduled RMWB Council meeting is April 28, 2020.