Alberta premier asks minister to see if appeal of school mask ruling is ‘appropriate’

Alberta premier asks minister to see if appeal of school mask ruling is 'appropriate'
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith holds her first press conference in Edmonton, on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.

EDMONTON – Alberta’s premier says she’s directing her justice minister to defend the province’s “full authority” after a court ruled rescinding mask mandates in schools earlier this year violated the law and was unreasonable.

Danielle Smith issued a statement saying she’s told Tyler Shandro to see if an appeal of Thursday’s Court of King’s Bench decision is “appropriate,” adding the government “will not permit any further masking mandates of children” in schools.

A provincial labour group, and children whose parents said they faced greater risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, launched a legal challenge of an order by the chief medical officer of health in February that lifted mask requirements in schools.

They also challenged a statement by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange saying school boards would not be allowed to impose their own mask requirements.

Justice Grant Dunlop said in a ruling Thursday that evidence showed Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s public health order “merely implemented a decision of a committee of cabinet” and did not stem from the top doctor herself, which he said violated the Public Health Act.

Smith says in addition to looking for avenues to appeal, she’s also asking Shandro, LaGrange and Health Minister Jason Copping to look for legislative or regulatory changes that could bolster the government’s position on mask mandates and other health and education matters.

By Rob Drinkwater

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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