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Alberta the most COVID-miserable province, index finds

Last Updated May 25, 2021 at 7:09 am PDT

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw leaves after updating media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Newly created Misery Index is measuring how provinces have dealt with COVID-19 over the past year

Macdonald-Laurier Institute's index looks at COVID cases, excess mortality, vaccination rates, strictness of lockdowns

PEI ranks as least miserable province overall, followed by Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador

CALGARY (NEWS 1130) – There may be excitement over restrictions easing in B.C., but looking back on the pandemic, a newly created Misery Index is measuring how provinces have dealt with COVID-19 over the past year.

And the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) says no province is more miserable from the fight against the coronavirus than Alberta.

The public policy group looked at metrics like COVID-19 cases per capita, excess mortality, vaccination rates, the strictness of lockdowns, and how hard economies were hit.

MLI found Alberta ticked many of those boxes, especially when it comes to case counts, COVID-related deaths, and a sharp drop in GDP exacerbated by the drop in demand for oil early in the pandemic.

British Columbia ranks behind the Atlantic provinces, which are the least miserable overall from COVID-19.

“Compared to the Atlantic provinces, Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta in particular have not only failed to keep COVID cases and deaths under control but have also been extremely reliant on reactive and stringent lockdowns and their economies have suffered disproportionately,” say the report authors.

“Lockdowns have heaped misery on the larger, more populous provinces, while Atlantic Canada’s bubble demonstrated the importance of keeping the virus out in the first place.”

Prince Edward Island ranks as the least miserable province overall (A+), followed by Nova Scotia (A), New Brunswick (B+), and Newfoundland and Labrador (B). Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C. are in the middle of the pack (C+), with Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta at the bottom of the index (D).

(Courtesy Macdonald-Laurier Institute)

“Lockdowns were originally pitched to Canadians as a magic bullet,” argues MLI senior fellow Richard Audas, the designer of the Provincial COVID Misery Index. “Unfortunately, while the disease itself is predictable, human behaviour is not.”

Audas says the data shows earlier and more decisive moves to respond to the pandemic at the federal level would have had greater effect.

“As the Atlantic Provinces demonstrated, early, well executed measures produced better results.”