To mask or not to mask: Alberta government leaves tough decision up to municipalities
CALGARY -- Alberta is the only provincial government in Canada not to have a mandatory mask bylaw in place, and it’s rubbing some residents and businesses the wrong way.
After British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island mandated the use of face masks in public areas this week, Alberta was left as the sole province not to require them.
According to the province’s website, Albertans are “encouraged” to wear a mask in a public place or if they are at risk, though masks are not mandatory.
That’s led to some tight votes across the province, as municipalities are faced with making a decision every other provincial government has already taken responsibility for.
“(A province-wide mandate) would’ve taken a lot of pressure off individual municipalities,” Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule told CTV News. “It couldn’t been consistent throughout the province.”
Strathmore town council shot down a mandatory face covering bylaw Wednesday night by a narrow margin of 4 to 3.
Fule voted in favour of the bylaw, but four town councillors were not on board.
One of those councillors, Lorraine Bauer, said she could not “agree with a bylaw where the focus would be on virtue signalling and disregard an individual’s right to choose what’s right for themselves and those they care about.”
Bauer tells CTV News she’d be in favour of a more comprehensive bylaw that is Strathmore-focused.
Even though Strathmore’s active COVID-19 cases are relatively low, some residents are worried the virus will continue to spread. In nearby areas like Siksika and Chestermere, there are far more cases and outbreaks.
“I’ve already seen on the Town of Strathmore Facebook page, people saying, ‘We’re going to come to Strathmore now to shop,’” said Daniel Wiewel, owner of a music shop in downtown Strathmore. “There are a lot of anti-mask conspiracies in this area.”
Wiewel's store requires face coverings.
“I would love to see the province step in,” he said. “Because it keeps getting pushed down and it’s putting a load on businesses. I have to make health decisions for my customers and I don’t want to have to make that call.
“It would’ve been nice to not have to worry about it at all.”