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‘Time to stop asking nicely:’ Sask. opposition, CMA demand gathering restrictions

“Scott Moe’s decisions [have] moved him from being a national embarrassment to international embarrassment." - Opposition leader Ryan Meili.
ndp Ryan Meili
Sask NDP leader Ryan Meili added his voice to other medical organizations calling for the immediate instatement of gathering limits in Sask.

REGINA — After the presentation of provincial modelling of COVID-19 data on Wednesday, both the Sask. NDP and the Canadian Medical Association have made public demands for more action from the provincial government.

Health critic Vicki Mowat and opposition leader Ryan Meili issued a public statement this afternoon, calling for the immediate instatement of gathering size limitations in the province.

“Ordinary folks and healthcare workers on the frontline are feeling hopeless, feeling frustrated as they see this lack of action from this government,” said Meili. 

CMA president Dr. Katharine Smart also issued a news release today, demanding that officials follow the growing advice of medical professionals and reinstate circuit breaker measures.

“Any further delays are simply not acceptable,” said Smart in the statement.

Saskatchewan Medical Association president Dr. Eben Strydom echoed the call, stating that seeing the province transferring critically ill patients out of province for care is a clear sign of emergency.

“It is a full-blown crisis that will only get worse as COVID-19 cases continue to jeopardize our ability to care for all Saskatchewan patients, even those who aren’t suffering from a COVID illness,” said Strydom.

Smart and the CMA also asked officials to seek further help from other jurisdictions, in the supply of resources and staff to help the overwhelmed health care system.

Today’s calls join previous pushes this week from the SMA and the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses to bring in heavier restrictions to combat the fourth wave. Meili also added that the province should be considering closing the "loophole" of providing a negative test as proof of vaccination.

Chief medical health officer Dr Saqib Shahab shared the modelling during a press conference with media on Oct. 20, becoming emotional when speaking about the province’s current trajectory without intervention.

Predictive data shows that without intervention, Saskatchewan could see hospitalizations rise to a critical level of over 200 patients by the end of December, which experts say would cripple the health system.

Shahab pleaded with Saskatchewan residents to get vaccinated and avoid gathering together of their own volition, without the implementation of public health mandates.

Opposition said that Shahab’s advice is being ignored by Premier Scott Moe and Health Minister Paul Merriman, evidenced by the current public health measures and their absence in the public eye.

“Throughout the first and second waves, the province pointed to Dr. Shahab as the guiding light for how best to get Saskatchewan through this pandemic,” said Mowat. “Now, at the most critical juncture in the fight, this government is flat out ignoring his advice.”

The NDP also restated calls for the release of CMHO’s recommendations and for the CMHO to be granted greater independence in their role as a civil servant, first issued earlier this week.

Meili said that the NDP are "going through the FOI process" in regards to obtaining the past recommendations made by Shahab, for review. He said the opposition plans to continue seeking those documents, using "every mechanism we can."

"Scott Moe doesn't want us to know that he looked at the modelling that he got the recommendations from Dr. Shahab and he chose the path that resulted in where we are today," said Meili.

Meili further critiqued the Sask Party’s response to the fourth wave, calling Moe’s recent actions an “abject failure of leadership.”

“Scott Moe’s decisions to constantly put politics ahead of people’s lives has moved him from being a national embarrassment to international embarrassment,” said Meili. 

"Right now, we need a government that has the leadership and courage to recognize that yes, things are tough and yes, they made mistakes, and we need to make a change."

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