REGINA — Saskatchewan opposition leader Ryan Meili is speaking out against the premier, after a letter of support from his office offering support to the convoy of truckers protesting mandatory vaccination in the Canadian capital was released over the weekend.
The Sask NDP statement was shared on Sunday, just one day after Premier Scott Moe shared a written letter of support on his social media channels on Jan. 29.
In the letter, Moe claimed that vaccination does not prevent contraction of COVID-19 and is not reducing transmission, concluding with a promise to rescind the province’s proof of vaccination policy “in the not-too-distant future.”
Meili, formerly a practicing doctor before he became leader of the Sask. NDP, said the premier “deliberately shared misinformation” about vaccines and the efficacy of health measures in reducing transmission.
“None of these things are true,” said Meili, in the written statement. “Scott Moe has this information at his disposal. When he makes statements to the contrary, these aren't errors. They aren't mistakes. They are lies.”
Local medical experts have also shared statements expressing concern over the premier’s words, including University of Saskatchewan physician and researcher Dr. Alexander Wong and Saskatoon virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen.
Meili said that Saskatchewan doctors are currently facing “extreme pressures” as a result of over-capacity hospitalizations, which have more than tripled since December.
With 349 individuals in hospital care as of Jan. 30, the province is nearing its previous high of 356 hospitalizations reached in October, at the peak of the fourth wave of the Delta variant.
Analysis of Regina wastewater, shared by the University of Regina on Friday, reported that the city has reached a peak concentration of COVID-19 viral levels present, which indicates continued high transmission rates.
Similar analysis in Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford also showed an increase in viral loads in all three city’s over the past week.
The opposition said that the Sask. Party has failed to provide adequate support for health care workers, specifically during the current wave, and accused Moe of encouraging the protests seen in Ottawa this weekend.
“The response from people who should be leaders, people who knew very well what was coming, was to encourage these protests rather than speak out against them,” said Meili. “They have made it clear that their allegiances are not with peace and order, they are not with the health of all Canadians.”
Meili has previously accused the Sask Party of aligning with grassroots anti-mask and anti-vaccine groups, and reiterated his stance on Sunday in response to Moe’s promise to end proof of vaccination policy in the province.
“In the face of political pressure from fringe groups, [Scott Moe] has instead chosen the cowardly path of promising to prematurely remove those measures when he knows it is dangerous to do so,” said Meili.
Meili called on members of the Sask Party caucus to step forward and “speak out against Scott Moe,” citing a responsibility as officials elected by constituents.
He also reiterated to the public the importance of following advice from public health experts and following the masking and vaccination guidelines for protection against infection.