Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe says COVID-19 shutdowns are not necessary

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REGINA — Saskatchewan can avert sector-wide shutdowns as it continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe asserted Saturday as new daily case figures in the province reached an all-time high. 

Moe's comments came on Saturday shortly before the province reported 78 new cases of the virus, a new single-day peak.

Moe spent Saturday, the second last day of the election race, campaigning in Moose Jaw, Regina and Saskatoon ahead of Monday's vote.

Despite the recent spike in COVID-19 numbers, Moe said he believed health officials could curb the spread of the virus without closing the doors to a slew of businesses and activities. 

"We will not have to have an economy-wide shutdown. We understand the virus much better," Moe said during a stop in Regina Walsh Acres, one of the battleground consituencies where his party is in a tight race with the provincial NDP. 

Moe said officials would fine people who flout public health advice. 

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili also campaigned in Regina and surrounding areas during his final election push.

"There still are folks who make up their mind in these last couple days," he said Saturday, the day after the party hosted a drive-in rally.

"The most important thing is that the people who've seen this campaign, that are excited, that see the choice before them, actually make that choice at the ballot box."

Meili has spent the campaign telling voters that reelecting the Saskatchewan Party to a fourth term in government will lead to service cuts, citing Moe's promise to eliminate the province's $2.1 billion deficit by 2024-25. 

Meili said the NDP would fix issues like crowding in classrooms and long waits for medical procedures by spending millions to hire more teachers and health-care workers.

Moe has said he would not increase taxes or make major cuts through government if he's sent back to the premier's office after Monday's vote. 

He has framed the election's key ballot question around who voters trust to recover the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While both party leaders disagree on policy, they encouraged their supporters to vote Saturday in the last day of advance polling. 

Elections Saskatchewan said more than 119,000 people voted early over the first three days, more than in the past ten general elections.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2020.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press