The Saskatchewan Opposition leader is pushing for the provincial government to order COVID-19 vaccines for all its employees.
NDP leader Ryan Meili said he wants Prime Minister Scott Moe to make a request to all healthcare, Crown corporation, government and public agencies in Saskatchewan to be vaccinated or face regular testing.
“There is nothing in place to protect the people of Saskatchewan as the fourth wave ends, and now Scott Moe is nowhere,” Meili told a news conference in front of the Legislature in Regina on Thursday. “He has given up. He has given up the fight against COVID-19. He has given up the children of Saskatchewan. He has given up health care
workers burn. “
Last week, the Saskatchewan Party government announced it would establish a policy that would require front-line health workers to provide evidence of vaccination in the workplace. Those who are not vaccinated will need to be tested regularly for COVID-19. Further details about the policy, including its spread, have not yet been released.
In a statement Thursday, the government said it was not considering mandatory vaccinations at this time.
A spokeswoman said Wednesday that the government continues to monitor COVID-19 in consultation with the province’s chief medical officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab.
“Prime Minister Moe and (Health) Minister (Paul) Merriman are further engaging with the Saskatchewan Health Authority regarding the recent increase in the number of hospitalizations and the ongoing capacity of the health care system,” said Julie Leggott.
She added that the prime minister will have more to say about this “in the coming days”.
With no public health orders currently in force in Saskatchewan, municipalities, schools and businesses are left to implement their own policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as the province faces some of the highest COVID-19 numbers in Canada.
The Government of Canada website shows that Saskatchewan had the highest rate of cases in the past week, with 217 infections per 100,000 inhabitants. This is more than three times the national average of 69.
The weekly case rate in the Saskatchewan Northern Health District is even higher, at 1,121 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Some indigenous groups in Saskatchewan are offering vaccine incentives to encourage people to take their shots at COVID-19. Indian group Lac La Ronge in the northeast of the province is giving $ 300 to each member who takes two hits. The Mtis Nation-Saskatchewan is also launching a vaccine lottery, with prizes that include a boat or truck, for Mtis residents who are fully vaccinated.
Meili said the government needs a nationwide strategy to increase vaccinations as rates are lowered.
Health Canada said Saskatchewan’s vaccination rate is the second lowest in the country, with 69 percent of eligible residents fully vaccinated.
“We should not have a random patch on who calls or does not,” Meili said. “This should be a sustainable policy across the province.”
Hospital admissions continued to rise along with cases on Thursday. The province reported 285 new cases and an additional death. The seven-day average of new daily cases reached a record high for the pandemic with 364 new cases per day. There were 184 people hospitalized with the virus, including 32 in intensive care.
Saskatchewan Health Authority has begun implementing more measures to reduce transmission.
Thursday was the second day the health authority closed the COVID-19 testing site in Prince Albert early due to capacity issues.
Starting Friday, the health authority will require visitors to long-term care homes to wear a mask in common areas and is strongly recommending residents do the same when they are not in their rooms.
In Saskatoon, patients at all acute care hospitals are limited to two visitors at a time.
The health authority said in a statement that the reduction in visits was a result of “the significant increase in COVID-19 transmission in Saskatoon and the high levels of hospitalizations”.
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