Some vulnerable residents in Calgary are looking for compromise now that the mask mandates are lifted in Alberta as of today.
Earlier this month, Kelsey Brown began an email campaign asking grocery stores to reimplement specific hours dedicated to allowing vulnerable individuals to shop.
Brown says she took up this campaign because even as the mandates are lifted, there should still be options for at-risk individuals to participate in society.
“People have said, ‘If you’re scared, stay home’ — but I don’t think vulnerable people should have to be isolated,” she says. “I don’t think that has to be our only option.”
A win-win situation
For Brown, it comes down to creating a compromise for everyone involved. She even got the idea from a friend who had a different opinion on the lifting of the mask mandates than her.
“We were discussing how can we find a compromise? What could we do to create an opportunity for everyone to participate in society?” she says.
In actuality, it was her friend who suggested that grocery stores go back to the dedicated hours policy they had at the beginning of the mandate.
“I thought it was a great idea. Something that works for everyone,” she says “And I thought, ‘Why not? Why can’t we go back?’”
Senior citizen Jane Brown says she would feel much more comfortable shopping for groceries if there was a dedicated time for vulnerable citizens.
“It just makes me feel like I have a little more time and space to find the things I need without worrying too much about other people,” she says, adding she preferred shopping that way when the pandemic first started.
“It just sets your mind at ease a little bit.”
Outpouring of support
Since starting the campaign, Brown has been surprised by the number of people willing to get involved, with about 30 people signing on to help out in the first three days.
“People are looking for an opportunity to engage and feel like their voice matters,” she says. “A lot of support for vulnerable individuals in our community.”
In addition to her family and friends helping out, she has posted to her Facebook page and on social media to see if she can garner more support.
While the campaign is still in its infancy, Brown and her team have sent letters to the major grocery chains but have yet to hear a response.
“They contacted the CEO and vice-president at Loblaws and contacted everyone at Sobeys. They also own Safeway, Calgary Co-op, and then Sunterra,” she says.
What Brown is asking from these companies is one to two hours in the mornings and evenings, three times a week, to accommodate the vulnerable shoppers and shift workers who may feel less comfortable shopping during busier hours.
According to Statistics Canada, 14% of Canadians aged 15 years or older have a compromised immune system that increases their adverse risk of outcomes from COVID.
In addition, the Fraser Institute said that in 2020, Albertans 65 or older made up 13.8% of the population.
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