Sask. NDP says lack of request for federal health-care workers from province is 'baffling'

·3 min read
Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on Premier Scott Moe to request health-care workers through the federal government to support those fighting the fourth wave of COVID-19 and to allow health workers to resume their usual work. (Kirk Fraser/CBC - image credit)
Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on Premier Scott Moe to request health-care workers through the federal government to support those fighting the fourth wave of COVID-19 and to allow health workers to resume their usual work. (Kirk Fraser/CBC - image credit)

The leader of Saskatchewan's Opposition says Premier Scott Moe should be asking the federal government to send health-care workers to the province to help in the fight against COVID-19.

NDP Leader Ryan Meili's comments came on Wednesday, after the newly created Provincial Emergency Operations Centre held its first COVID-19 technical briefing.

The formation of the entity — intended to streamline the province's COVID-19 response and jointly led by the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Ministry of Health — was announced last week by the provincial government.

At Wednesday's briefing, Public Safety Agency president Marlo Pritchard said the province has not formally requested federal help.

Pritchard said the province is in talks with Ontario about sending Saskatchewan intensive care patients east for care if necessary.

"We are days away from having to send patients out of province. We are days away from doctors having to decide who will get life-saving triage and who will not," Pritchard said.

During Wednesday morning's briefing, health authority president Scott Livingstone said the province is "already over our capacity in ICU. So any major events … we would be triaging patients and sending out of province."

As of Wednesday, 76 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care in the province.

The leader of Saskatchewan's Opposition says the federal government has said it can help the province if a request is made, but "they are refusing to even ask."

"It is baffling," Meili said Wednesday.

"I don't understand why, and there was no explanation given why this government has chosen — when there is help available — to not to take that help," he said.

"We have the highest cases in the country, the highest death rates in the country and the lowest rate of vaccination "

Last week, the premier said the province had not requested health-care workers through the federal government as it was looking for internal solutions first.

"We should be looking for every opportunity and every resource that we have before we go make an external request," Moe said last Thursday. "Is there an opportunity for us to even look deeper within our province?"

On Wednesday, Meili said Saskatchewan's health-care workers need support, and vital provincial health-care programs are being affected by redeployment.

"Call the federal minister, ask for help to get those extra bodies in our hospitals right now," Meili said.

He also accused the premier of "hiding."

"He's in the building today, and still what we got as an update was a teleconference."

Meili also said the province's move to a provincial emergency operations centre was due to Moe's "personal political emergency."

Children's health services impacted: Opposition

NDP education critic Carla Beck said there are children who rely on pediatric treatment and care who are not receiving it due to redeployment of resources to respond to the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases.

"If we don't act now these kids will lose this valuable window for growth and development," Beck said.

Last week, a Saskatoon ICU doctor said 200 surgeries and procedures a day were being postponed in Saskatchewan.

Beck said without surgeries, treatments and care, some children could face a "lifetime of consequences."

"The premier refuses to take advantage of the help that's been offered."

Beck says refusing federal help and instead pulling occupational therapists, physiotherapists and other health professionals away from families and children is "madness."

"We never should have got to this position where vulnerable kids are paying for this government's inaction."

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