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Sask. provincial emergency centre to alleviate COVID stress from frontline workers

Saskatchewan has activated its emergency response command structure to help alleviate stress on frontline workers in the healthcare system
postelection Scott Moe speech
Premier Scott Moe said the activation of the Provincial Command centre is to help with administrative and organizational responsibilities within the healthcare system.

REGINA — Premier Scott Moe has announced that the province has activated Provincial Command to lead Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 response moving forward, to alleviate stressors on frontline health care workers.

Through the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre, the emergency system will join forces with Saskatchewan Health Authority and Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency to re-allocate health care resources more efficiently.

“What we're doing here today is bringing together this joint command center to really support and then augment the efforts of not only the SHA, but the whole of government response to what we're facing in this province with the fourth wave,” said Moe.

The command structure will be overseen jointly by SPSA president Marlo Pritchard, SHA CEO Scott Livingstone, and deputy minister of health Max Hendricks.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab will continue to be responsible for public health recommendations and orders.

Using an incident command system, the PEOC will take administrative and organizational responsibility for COVID-related decisions, under the jurisdiction of the SHA and the Ministry of Health.

This includes handling details of resource allocation within the healthcare sector, like organizing vaccine clinics and deploying staff, to allow health care workers to focus on patient care and service delivery.

It will also keep communication open to the public, providing news media with accurate and up-to-date information.

Pritchard said that the system has been utilized for numerous different emergency scenarios in the province over the past several decades, including in response to wildfires and flooding, with success.

He said the activation of the system is not to take over from the SHA, but to “streamline communication” and better manage information flow.

“It is designed to more effectively pull key individuals from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Ministry of Health and their organizations together,” said Pritchard. 

“This is just the changing of structure going into a unified command, instead of us being in a support role.”

With the announcement of the resource management changes, Moe also clarified that the province is not considering further public restrictions at this time. 

He also said that Saskatchewan is not currently looking to the federal government for staffing support on the frontline, but officials have not ruled the possibility out completely.

Instead, Moe said the PEOC will analyze whether more potential internal reorganization to increase ICU capacities can be done. 

“We should be looking for every opportunity and every resource that we have before we go make an external request,” said Moe.

He also said that the federal government has agreed to help supply more rapid tests for school districts, with an estimated one million tests set to be delivered monthly to Saskatchewan moving forward.