UNA asks Alberta mayors to adopt mandatory masking policies

United Nurses of Alberta President Heather Smith has written letters to the mayors of Alberta’s six largest cities asking for local municipal leaders to act on the mandatory wearing of face masks in enclosed workplaces and public spaces.

UNA’s Executive Board recently passed a motion calling on the Government of Alberta and the Chief Medical Officer of Health to immediately implement mandatory wearing of face masks in enclosed workplaces and public spaces for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter to mayors Naheed Nenshi of Calgary,  Don Iveson of Edmonton, Bill Given of Grande Prairie, Chris Spearman of Lethbridge, Ted Clugston of Medicine Hat, and Tara Veer of Red Deer asks the municipal leaders to adopt mandatory masking as soon as possible in their city, especially for users of public transit.

In the letter, Smith notes that masking on public transit in particular is a necessary and effective measure to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help the Alberta economy return to normal as quickly as possible.

“As the president of UNA, which represents more than 30,000 Registered Nurses, Registered Psychiatric Nurses and allied health workers, I know that our members are reminded daily of the gravity of this pandemic, the serious health consequences COVID-19 poses, and the rationale behind the effectiveness of mask wearing to suppress the spread of this dangerous new virus,” Smith wrote.

When combined with other public health measures, masking is a key part of stopping the spread of COVID-19 and restoring Alberta’s economy without facing more avoidable tragedies or requiring an economically devastating return to lockdown. As working people, Alberta’s nurses understand and support the desire of all Albertans to get the province back to work as quickly as possible.

Mandatory masking in workplaces and public spaces has been effectively implemented in other jurisdictions such as Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, Guelph, and all Quebec municipalities, and they are being seriously considered in many other Canadian municipalities.

Wearing a face mask in public

Albertans are encouraged to wear non-medical masks in public when it's difficult to maintain physical distancing of 2 metres at all times.

Wearing a homemade or non-medical mask in public is another tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks should complement – not replace – other prevention measures. Continue physical distancing and good hand hygiene, and stay home when sick.