Any Albertan 18 and older who has received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine can now enter a province-wide lottery to win $1 million.
Premier Jason Kenney announced further details Monday afternoon about the province’s Open for Summer Lottery, which will hand out three separate $1-million prizes this summer.
“Now your vaccine shot is also your shot at becoming a millionaire,” Kenney said outside the Edmonton Expo Centre Monday.
Over the weekend, the premier took to social media to share some details about the province-wide lottery.
The first $1-million prize is up for grabs to any Albertan 18 or older who gets at least their first dose of vaccine. Registration will close one week after the province immunizes 70 per cent of the eligible population with one dose.
As of Sunday night, Kenney said 68.7 per cent of eligible Albertans had received their first dose.
Eligibility criteria are as follows:
- You must reside in Alberta at the time of the draw
- You must be 18 or older
- You must provide proof of receiving your first dose of an approved vaccine
The province said anyone 18 and older who received their first dose outside the province is also eligible, as long as they submit proof of vaccination to Alberta Health Services and meet the other criteria.
Eligible Albertans can now register for the lottery online.
The province said people have to opt into the vaccine lottery to comply with Alberta’s privacy legislation.
The winner of the first $1 million will be announced when Stage 3 of Alberta’s Open for Summer plan begins.
The other two $1-million lotteries will be held throughout the summer. Kenney said the second $1-million prize will be handed out in August to anyone 18 and older who is fully vaccinated with two doses.
The third prize will be handed out in late September, also for those 18 and older who are double-dosed with COVID-19 vaccine.
The province said people will only need to enter once for all three draws. Proof of vaccination will be required once a winner is selected.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro said more incentives are being explored for Albertans aged 12 to 17 who are not eligible for the lotteries. Details on those incentives will be announced in the coming days, he said.
“We are spending this money to ensure widespread immunity that benefits every Albertan,” Shandro said Monday.
Dr. Noel Gibney, co-chair of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association’s Strategic COVID-19 Pandemic Committee, said he hopes the lottery will reach those who have been on the fence about vaccination.
The doctor hopes the lottery will be repeated in August to encourage people to get their second doses. This will provide better protection against the Delta variant and avoid a fourth wave, he explained.
“It really is important that they put as much effort into getting people their second doses, as they are now putting, appropriately, into the first doses.”
Are financial incentives effective?
Dr. Bradley Ruffle is the academic director of the McMaster Decision Science Laboratory at McMaster University.
He said overall, the lottery is not a bad idea to get people to roll up their sleeves, but added it’s not the best way to push up vaccination rates.
“I think it’s a decent idea. As an economist, I certainly believe that financial incentives can change people’s behaviour, but I think it’s about the fifth-best idea you can think of to increase vaccination rates.”
He said the best idea would have been an opt-out option much earlier in the vaccination rollout.
“When the vaccines were first developed and while we were still waiting for them to be approved by Health Canada, the government already starts to begin booking appointments for every adult Canadian. So you get a phone call or a letter telling you to go to such and such a place on a specified date and time to get your first vaccine dose. You, of course, have the option to cancel your appointment if you really don’t want to go, but that, of course, requires some effort,” Ruffle explained in an interview with Shaye Ganam on 630 CHED Monday morning.
“I wouldn’t expect it to work on the anti-vaxxers who have the strong ideology, but those who are on the fence or those who are just disorganized and can’t get their act together, maybe are confused, maybe don’t know how to use the computer to book their appointment, you get it booked for you.
“The idea here is just to make it easier. I think making it easier for people would be more effective than any of these financial incentives.”
If going the lottery route, Ruffle suggests making many smaller prizes so more people can benefit from the program. One example is offering 1,000 smaller prizes of $1,000.
“It still totals up to the same $1 million in prizes, but it would be more effective. And the way to conduct such a lottery would be to have these 1,000 prizes at $1,000 each, having such a lottery every day, where, for instance, you announce 10 $1,000 prize winners publicly,” he said.
“It would be likely after a number of days that already just about every Albertan would know at least someone who has won one of these $1,000 prizes.
“It makes the lottery more real, more salient. It’s not this pie-in-the-sky, one chance in almost four million to win the big prize.”
Shandro said the province explored several options when it came to financial incentives, including having more smaller prizes.
He said the province consulted with people who have experience designing lotteries, including Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, and the recommendation was to have three prizes worth $1 million each.
“If we had three prizes of $1 million each, then that was going to be enough for us to get enough folks to register for this lottery,” Shandro said.
“We did consult lottery experts and this is what they recommended,” Kenney added. “The big prizes get more interest.”
NDP MLA David Shepherd said Kenney’s original announcement of the lottery through a social media video on Saturday was “botched” and caused confusion, but added the NDP caucus is supportive of any effort to increase the vaccination rate.
“A lottery is worth a try.”
As of June 12, 68.7 per cent of eligible Albertans 12 and older had received their first dose of vaccine. The province said as of June 13, there were 60,429 first-dose vaccine appointments booked in the next seven days.
The province anticipates it will hit the 70 per cent threshold for first doses on June 18. This would trigger the start of Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan two weeks later on July 2.
Kenney said Monday the province is about 48,361 first-dose appointments away from the 70 per cent threshold.
To continue the push for people to get their first doses, the Edmonton Expo Centre is still offering walk-in vaccinations for people who need their first shot. Walk-ins for those who have not yet received their first dose are available in Hall C during the following hours:
- Tuesday June 15: 12:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
- Wednesday, June 16: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Thursday, June 17: 12:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
- Friday, June 18: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Saturday, June 19: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Every Albertan 12 and older is eligible to receive their first dose. Anyone who received their first dose in April or earlier is now eligible to book their second dose of vaccine.
Details on how to book vaccination appointments can be found on the AHS website.