The province is proud of its mask supply and how well they've handled their COVID-19 cases so far. But a new supply of masks have got health care workers and unions outraged. The new masks in Alberta fit poorly, cause rashes, and more, according to their union.
These new masks arrived as part of a $200 million shipment of new protective equipment promised by Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro on Saturday, April 11.
However, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents many doctors in the province, says the new masks aren't working right.
"They're just not the same quality as the ones that normally are with Alberta Health Services," said AUPE vice president Susan Slade to Narcity.
She said the new masks don't fit or form a tight seal around the face — which is critical to proper safety. The straps fall apart during patient care, and Slade said there were even cases where masks slipped off during use.
The masks have "an unpleasant and overwhelming odour" and many mask-wearers reported getting rashes, throat irritation, headaches, and nausea after wearing them, said UAPE in a statement.
Slade said the offending masks were from Vanch, a company based out of Shenzhen, China. The old masks were sourced from priMED, a Canadian company with domestic factories.
Shoddy surgical masks delivered at the eleventh hour to the front lines of the pandemic are proof Alberta's health-… https://t.co/t2e4p0fet8— AUPE (@AUPE) 1587238991.0
Narcity reached out to the ministry of health in Alberta for comment and this article will be updated.
Earlier in the month, Alberta gave away hundreds of thousands of their own masks to neighbouring provinces, after saying they had more than enough for themselves.
Slade responded, saying the quantity isn't the issue, it's the quality of the supply.
The PPE we're getting to replace the stuff used for @jkenney's political stunt is utter shit. The masks fit poorly,… https://t.co/KLIhUnX7Oh— Dr. Mike Chatenay #COVIDisnotaGame (@Dr. Mike Chatenay #COVIDisnotaGame) 1587238179.0
Reddit users who said they were health care workers took to social media in droves.
"I'm an RN in Alberta, and I can confirm these masks are absolutely terrible!!" commented one user on Reddit.
"On my second shift wearing one my face was swollen and burning within an hour and I could feel my airway constricting," they continued.
Happy to report that Alberta has received another 2 million KN95 masks. They have been approved for use by AHS afte… https://t.co/1MiygbSfnL— Jason Kenney (@Jason Kenney) 1587252737.0
After all the outward support governments in Alberta showed to health care workers, many were disappointed in these latest actions.
"Working Albertans on the frontlines of the COVID-19 struggle are heroes," said Slade in a statement.
"They deserve PPE that keeps them healthy and safe while the fight to save lives, not shoddy, unusable, unhealthy stop gap measures."