As the fourth wave of the pandemic in Saskatchewan continues, the province has now surpassed Ontario in per capita COVID-19-related deaths.
As of Tuesday, the province has recorded 67.2 deaths per 100,000 people since the pandemic began, according to data from the federal government.
That leaves Saskatchewan's rate virtually tied with Alberta's, which as of Tuesday had reported 67.3 deaths per 100,000 people.
Only two other provinces — Quebec and Manitoba — have higher per capita death rates.
Per capita COVID-19-related deaths in each province
Ontario has reported 66 deaths per 100,000 people.
The news comes as Saskatchewan remains the province with the highest rate of COVID-19 deaths and cases over the past 14 days, according to data from Health Canada.
During a Tuesday interview with CBC Radio's The Morning Edition, Premier Scott Moe was asked about implementing further restrictions, as Alberta has done in the face of a deepening fourth wave.
"Well, we don't do everything that Alberta has done. We have, you know, charted somewhat of a different path here in Saskatchewan," Moe said.
"You've got the highest death rate in the country," host Stefani Langenegger responded.
"If you look back throughout the COVID pandemic, that just simply isn't true," Moe said.
"You've got the highest death in the country right now," Langenegger responded.
"Are we having a challenge as we find our way through the fourth wave of COVID 19 in Saskatchewan? Most certainly we are. I think that is obvious with the decision that we have made yesterday," Moe said.
"But as we look ahead with the tools that we have in Saskatchewan and we look at the trajectory of the numbers here in the province, I think the Saskatchewan situation is improving."
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The belief that Saskatchewan should look at the entirety of the pandemic, rather than the numbers that have been reported in the most recent wave, was a sentiment also offered by Health Minister Paul Merriman last week.
COVID-19 case counts have dropped in Saskatchewan over recent weeks but hospitalizations and intensive care admissions have stayed relatively steady or continued climbing.
Health officials and experts have repeatedly said that hospitalizations and ICU admissions are lagging indicators, which means they could get worse before eventually improving.
In a statement provided to CBC News, the government of Saskatchewan offered its condolences to those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19.
"The loss of any life to COVID-19 has a deep impact on families, friends and communities as a whole," the statement read.
The province urged all eligible Saskatchewan residents to get vaccinated, as "high community vaccine uptake is key to protecting all of us."
The statement did not respond directly to questions posed by CBC News, including whether the premier's office takes any responsibility for Saskatchewan now surpassing Ontario for per capita COVID-19-related deaths.