REGINA — Saskatchewan recorded its highest daily case count of COVID-19 and its highest number of people needing intensive care, as a member of the government caucus resigned for ''misrepresenting her vaccination status."
Premier Scott Moe said he accepted Thursday the resignation of Nadine Wilson, who has represented the constituency of Saskatchewan Rivers since 2007.
She will remain as an MLA but will be considered an Independent in the legislature.
Moe said the remaining 47 members of the Saskatchewan Party caucus are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
At a news conference in Saskatoon, Moe said information about Wilson came to light as the province moved toward its proof-of-vaccination policy for government staff, which starts Friday.
Caucus chair David Buckingham said that in the spring, he was given verbal confirmation that all caucus members were vaccinated.
"The process was for me to find out — before the Oct. 1 deadline for vaccinations — that I would find out that all of our members are in compliance. So, I asked to actually see it — a paper version of their vaccination status," he said at the news conference with Moe.
"And that's when we found out that one of our members was not indeed vaccinated, and so that had to be dealt with."
Wilson said in an email Thursday that she can “no longer support the direction of the Saskatchewan Party government or follow the government with true conviction regarding the current health situation.”
“I believe in the fundamental values of freedom of personal choice, voluntary informed consent, without the element of duress or coercion,” she said.
The province reported 601 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and there were 72 people in intensive care — both figures are the highest since the pandemic began last year.
There were 4,669 active cases and 307 people in hospital with the virus. Ten more people died of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 695.
Of all the provinces, Saskatchewan has the highest case rate in the last seven days and the highest death rate. Data compiled by Health Canada also shows Saskatchewan residents are four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people in any other province except Alberta.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to provide any supports necessary to help Saskatchewan with its growing COVID-19 crisis.
In a conversation Wednesday with Moe, the Prime Minister's Office said the two leaders spoke about Saskatchewan's COVID-19 cases, increasing vaccination efforts and what the province needs to overcome the fourth wave of the pandemic.
A statement from Ottawa said Trudeau reiterated that the federal government "remains ready to respond to any requests" from Saskatchewan for aid.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2021.
— By Daniela Germano in Edmonton
The Canadian Press