The Canadian Press
NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says the Alberta government should make a public apology after a United Conservative Party MLA made comments last week that imply some people in the province are refusing work and are on drugs because of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
UCP MLA Shane Getson, who represents Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland, made the comments while speaking at a two-hour online town hall he held on Facebook on September 24th, where he said he had spoken to Alberta business owners who were struggling to find workers and believed CERB was the cause. “They can’t hire people,” Getson said. “And I’m going, ‘Well why not?’…because [workers] make more on CERB. Eating Cheezies and watching cartoons, I guess.”
Getson also said during the town hall that he has spoken to a friend in Vernon, B.C., who said there were drug addiction issues in that community and believed it was connected to CERB.
“People that were getting $700 a month are now getting $2,000 a month,” he said. “We’re concerned about the same thing here because now all of a sudden, you’ve got that population that has all this extra cash and now their addiction levels are going through the roof. And then what? The funny money runs out.”
“The Albertans struggling during this pandemic, who were rightly offended by these hurtful comments, deserve an apology from Jason Kenney and Shane Getson,” she said. “The UCP have shown the depth of their hypocrisy with their decision to use a loophole to take taxpayer dollars to finance their debt-ridden party HQ and then choosing to support and actually endorse the public shaming of the one million Albertans who actually needed supports to put food on their tables and keep roofs over their heads during a global pandemic.” NDP Mental Health and Addictions Critic Heather Sweet said Getson’s comments were horrific, especially in light of new information released last week that showed 449 Albertans have died as a result of opioid addictions in 2020 in Alberta alone. “People are begging for help from this government and instead they’re being insulted,” Sweet said. “There isn’t a shred of compassion. If Jason Kenney really cared about supporting people struggling with addiction he would apologize and tell this province what exactly Shane Getson is going to do to make amends for his comments.” MLA Getson says his comments are being used for political gain and he is addressing serious issues.
By Carol Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Grizzly Gazette