Editor’s Note: The interview with Roy Green mentions Friday’s COVID-19 caseload. However, the interview was in fact conducted live on Saturday after the province released its new data.
The premier made the comments Saturday on Global’s The Roy Green Show shortly after the province announced 439 new COVID-19 cases, an all-time high, and record hospitalizations.
The premier told Green it would be “disastrous” for Saskatchewan’s small business community to face a second lockdown as they did in the spring.
“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure they’re going to be able to make it through this without a circuit breaker, without a shutdown, or without a lockdown or whatever terminology that is used,” Moe said.
As of Saturday, there are 97 active COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan, mainly at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, non-retail workplaces and gyms, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
The province recently implemented a province-wide mask mandate and reduced indoor private gathering sizes from 10 to five, but stopped short of a lockdown. Aside from hookah services and party buses, all businesses remain open.
Tracy Zambory, president of Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, has been calling for a two-week circuit breaker lockdown. She says the window of opportunity to stem the virus is rapidly closing.
“We’ve got to stop making it a competition between the economy and keeping people healthy and safe in this province,” Zambory said. “It’s not necessary to have that type of rhetoric going. I believe we can have both.”
She says if more aggressive measures aren’t implemented, “the healthcare system is not going to be able to function.”
But Zambory says it’s not just facilities that are being stretched, it’s also health-care workers.
“We’re in a human health resource crisis. There are not enough health-care professionals to continue at the pace that we’re continuing and to be able to keep the healthcare system going in the way that it’s going in real-time today. There just isn’t.”
The government will announce new measures next week following consultations with businesses.
Zambory says nurses on the front-lines are also seeking consultations.
“There have been no consultations with registered nurses on how we can manage ourselves in this situation and we’re the largest group of health-care providers in this province right on the front-lines every day,” Zambory said.
In recent weeks, hundreds of doctors penned an open letter to the government asking for stronger measures. It’s become common for front-line workers to vent their frustrations on social media, some even begging the public to write to their local MLAs.
Zambory cautioned that if the measures announced next week aren’t strong enough, Saskatchewan could end up in a crisis.
“If we do not take decisive measures now, we’re going to end up in a lockdown that’s not going to last for a week or two weeks, but it’s going to last for months,” Zambory said. “All we have to do is open our eyes, look to the east, look to the west, look to the south. We’re following in the footsteps of all of that tragedy that’s happening around us. And why would we not want to take decisive leadership action to stave that off?”