Sask. Opposition calls on premier to release modeling used to drop restrictions, hold COVID briefings

·3 min read
NDP Leader Ryan Meili says Premier Scott Moe should
NDP Leader Ryan Meili says Premier Scott Moe should

Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to apologize for his handling of the pandemic, resume weekly COVID-19 briefings and release modelling that informed his choice to drop all public health restrictions back in July.

Meili made the requests Friday, the same day the province reported seven more COVID-19-related deaths, the most in a single day since May. The province also reported more than 400 daily cases for the sixth day in a row.

"It didn't have to get to this point. We were able to prevent and avoid this if we'd taken the right action at the right time. Unfortunately, Scott Moe decided to put politics ahead of the people of Saskatchewan," Meili said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

"Today we learned that things are about to get very much worse."

Meili said internal Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) modelling predicts that by Sept. 30, the province could be reporting 750 COVID-19 cases a day, with 350 people in hospital and 125 in intensive care units.

This information, shared among SHA division heads before a virtual town hall with physicians on Thursday night, was obtained by CBC News.

Meili also wants Moe to return to the legislature to take questions from MLAs and resume weekly COVID-19 briefings with Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, starting next week.

"We're calling on Scott Moe to be honest about how we got here and to start being honest with the people of Saskatchewan with all the information," Meili said.

'Largest test our health-care system has faced' since pandemic began

The SHA has moved to the second of four potential escalating phases of ICU capacity, designed to allow the province to "surge" to 175 ICU beds by redeploying staff. In the first stage, Saskatchewan works with a base of 79 ICU beds.

"We have hit a critical point, and are now on the verge of the largest test our health-care system has faced since this pandemic began," said SHA CEO Scott Livingstone in a news release.

The SHA aims to accommodate a new projection of 125 COVID ICU patients and to maintain capacity for up to 50 non-COVID ICU patients.

Its other targets include:

  • Flex up hospital capacity across the province to care for a total of 350 COVID non-ICU patients (previously 255).

  • Support the deployment of staff to support the case investigation requirements for up to 750 new lab confirmed positive cases per day

  • Continue efforts to meet testing targets for demand, aiming for no longer than 24 hours wait for testing within a test centre or a wait of no more than 90 minutes within a drive-thru

CBC News reached out to the provincial government to see if the premier would release modelling, hold briefings and return to the legislature, but had not heard back as of publication.

No apology from Sask. Premier

On Thursday, Moe announced the province would implement mandatory masking, a proof of vaccination policy and a requirement for government employees to get vaccinated or receive negative tests.

The premier was asked repeatedly by reporters if he was sorry for how he handled the fourth wave, but he did not apologize, saying the government made the best decisions it could with the information it had at the time.

WATCH | Premier Scott Moe defends government's decisions on restrictions amid rising COVID-19 cases

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