Anti-mask billboard in Estevan prompts controversy and calls for removal

·2 min read
The digital billboard displays four separate messages: one attacks mask-wearing in classrooms, one urges people not to consume COVID-19 news and the other two attack COVID-19 health measures. (Donna Tod/Facebook - image credit)
The digital billboard displays four separate messages: one attacks mask-wearing in classrooms, one urges people not to consume COVID-19 news and the other two attack COVID-19 health measures. (Donna Tod/Facebook - image credit)

A billboard displayed in Estevan has sparked controversy and conversation both online and among Saskatchewan leaders.

The digital billboard displays four separate messages: one attacks mask-wearing in classrooms, one urges people not to consume COVID-19 news and the other two attack COVID-19 health measures.

Up until Wednesday, the sign also displayed the logo of SaskTel and its dealer Jump.ca above the controversial messaging. SaskTel said it is not associated with the billboard messages.

"This sign is not owned by SaskTel or its dealer Jump.ca, and therefore SaskTel does not have any control over the messaging on the billboard," SaskTel said in a statement.

SaskTel said that Jump.ca requested that their logo be removed from the sign and that the logo has officially been painted over as of Wednesday.

The company that owns the sign, Future Signs, told CBC that it will not be removing the anti-mask and anti-protocol billboards at this time. 
The company that owns the sign, Future Signs, told CBC that it will not be removing the anti-mask and anti-protocol billboards at this time. (Donna Tod/Facebook)

On Tuesday, Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili called for the owner of the sign to take down the anti-masking and anti-protocol messaging.

"I think it's absolutely awful ... It makes zero sense for us to be having people advertising against laws and against public safety," Meili said.

"I understand people are stressed, people are sick of this, they're fatigued. But why you'd be out there trying to to spread propaganda that's only going to make it last longer makes zero sense to me."

Premier Scott Moe told reporters on Wednesday that Saskatchewan is in some of the most crucial days of its pandemic response. He said the public health orders are working and need to be followed.

"So I just don't really have a lot of time for people that are trying to advocate for others to to break the laws," Moe said. "I think that [billboard] is also advocating for kids to not be masked, which is possibly even a little bit more troublesome."

Both Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili and Premier Scott Moe have spoken against the Estevan billboards, with Meili calling for the sign owner to take down the messaging.
Both Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili and Premier Scott Moe have spoken against the Estevan billboards, with Meili calling for the sign owner to take down the messaging. (CBC)

Billboard will stay

The company that owns the sign, Future Signs, told CBC that it will not be removing the anti-mask and anti-protocol billboards at this time.

The company said positive responses to the messaging have been five times greater than negative responses.

Future Signs said it will be releasing an official statement within the next two days.