Sask. premier trails counterparts in attending COVID-19 media conferences

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe attended two press conferences this week, the fewest among Canadian provincial leaders not self-isolating.

Saskatchewan holds a daily briefing at 2:30 p.m. CST. This week four briefings were held, Thursday there was no public availability.

Moe attended conferences on Monday and Wednesday. 

Across the country, each province is dealing with its own unique COVID-19-related challenges.

As of Friday, Saskatchewan was third in testing rate among the provinces and had the fifth most infections.

In B.C., Premier John Horgan has been available on three occasions this week.

In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney has appeared three times this week to field media questions and held a Facebook live with the province's chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Thursday.

In Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister attended four of five media briefings.

In Ontario and Quebec Premiers Doug Ford and François Legault have held daily briefings.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

In Atlantic Canada, the premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have held daily briefings.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King was in self-isolation after returning from a trip to Boston and has been available via video.

Trudeau, federal cabinet and Sask. opposition leader available daily

The daily routine, if you can call it that, in various provinces is a news conference with the region's top doctor and the premier. Some provinces separate the health announcements with those addressing other measures.

This week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a daily morning briefing outside his home while in self-isolation. His statement and question and answer are followed by another news conference attended by Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and a variety of federal cabinet ministers.

Saskatchewan Opposition Leader Ryan Meili holds a daily video conference at 11 a.m. local. 

In many cases, Meili has asked for government intervention or action on a particular issue related to COVID-19. 

"Right now, people expect to hear from their leaders regularly, and want to know they're taking quick action. That's why we'll keep staying in touch with the people of the province as much as possible, and continue to push the government to step up with more supports and more information," Meili said Friday.

Ryan Meili/YouTube

Moe 'leading government response' says spokesperson

With the legislative session indefinitely suspended, the daily Question Period exchange and subsequent interviews of MLAs have disappeared.

The public, many of whom are now stuck at home, have taken to the online daily stream of the government update.

The live-streamed news conferences have significant audiences online. The Government of Saskatchewan Facebook page averages around 60,000 views per news conference. CBC Saskatchewan's Facebook page averages between 30,000 and 40,000. 

Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab has been the lone constant in the daily conferences.

Shahab, however, cannot answer questions about program spending, government decisions on support for low-income people and education plans for example.

The government has provided statements and teleconferences with various officials and ministers in the past few days.

A spokesperson for the premier said his attendance at news conferences is dependent on what the government is announcing on a particular day.

"Premier Moe remains actively involved in leading our government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the Chief Medical Health Officer and other senior health officials," said a spokesperson for Premier Moe in a statement.

"Each day we evaluate what information is important to convey to the people of Saskatchewan. When we are communicating information regarding COVID-19 that is medical in nature, it is important for that information to be communicated by the Chief Medical Health Officer. When an announcement is made in regards to restrictions or resource supports, it is important for this information to be communicated by the Premier."

"The Premier will continue to regularly communicate with Saskatchewan people through the COVID-19 media briefings, along with other methods of communication," the statement said.