The connection between Telus and the Nixon family

In March, the province published an announcement on their website, promoting Babylon, a health app produced by TELUS.

Jason Kenney, the Alberta premier, tweeted out a link to the article yesterday. Tyler Shandro, the minister of health, quoted tweeted the premier.

The app has two main components: a chatbot and an online consult with a doctor.

The chatbot is inefficient. I tried it three times for a cough I had last month. I tried to answer the questions it asked me as accurately as I could. The first time, it told me I was having a heart attack. The other two times, it told me I was having an asthma attack. All three times, it told me to go to the ER or call an ambulance.

The province is trying to spin the virtual doctor visit by labelling the doctors as “Alberta registered”. However, in a tweet yesterday, the press secretary for Jason Luan, the associate minister of mental health and addiction, stated that physicians who consult via the app don’t need to live in Alberta, only that they be licensed here.

All doctors that sign up for Telus Babylon must be Alberta-licensed. Physicians can hold licences in more than 1 province. We don’t require them to live in Alberta in order to have a licence here. Also, I believe the AHCIP bulletin will be up on this soon.

- Kassandra Kitz (@KassandraKitz) March 19, 2020

So, not only are you not consulting with your own family doctor via the app, you may not even be consulting with a doctor in Alberta.

Anyhow, this isn’t the only investment into health that TELUS has made. Just this past January, TELUS announced that they would be donating $1 million toward a mobile health clinic van in Edmonton. The van is operated by the Mustard Seed.

The Mustard Seed is a non-profit that runs a street ministry in 7 locations in Calgary, 5 in Edmonton, 3 in Red Deer, and 1 each in Medicine Hat and Kamloops. The founder of the Mustard Seed is Pat Nixon, the father of Jason and Jeremy Nixon, both of whom are MLAs. In fact, Jason used to be the executive director of the Mustard Seed and even has a pension through them. He’s currently serving in Kenney’s cabinet as the minster of environment and parks, as well as the house leader.

So in January, TELUS makes a $1 million donation to the organization Nixon’s family runs, and two months later, members of the Alberta cabinet promote TELUS’s health app.

Originally published at kimsiever.ca on 4 May 2020.

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Kim Siever

Kim Siever

Writer. Parent. Spouse. Radical left. Finished writing a book on capitalism. My next book is on the history of the labour movement in Lethbridge, AB. He/him.