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Proposed Alberta legislation shifts decision-making power in public health emergencies

EDMONTON- The Alberta government is putting forth amendments to the Public Health Act, empowering politicians to have the ultimate authority in public health emergencies.  

Justice Minister Micket Amery asserts that elected officials have to act in the best interests of Albertans, and the revised legislation is designed to ensure that they have the authority to make critical decisions.  

This proposal comes after a significant legal development in August. Health-related charges were dropped against an Edmonton-area pastor, a local church, and a central Alberta man who organized a rodeo in protest of COVID-19 restrictions. 

These cases were dismissed following a court ruling a month prior, which determined that the Alberta government, under then–United Conservative Party Premier Jason Kenny, had improperly imposed restrictions under the Public Health Act.  

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The presiding judge found that Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who was the province’s chief medical officer of health at the time, had not been the one to decide on implementing these orders. Instead, the responsibility had rested with the provincial cabinet.  

The court’s decision stated that the orders would have been deemed constitutional had they been appropriately enhanced by Dr. Hinshaw.  

The report by The Canadian Press was initially published on November 2, 2023. 

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