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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe looks back on the challenges of 2020

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on the many challenges of 2020 – Part 1'
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on the many challenges of 2020 – Part 1
WATCH: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe sits down with Global News' Allison Bamford and answers some of the many questions surrounding the challenges of 2020. – Dec 22, 2020

The year 2020 has been like no other and leading the charge in Saskatchewan has been Premier Scott Moe.

As the year comes to an end, Moe reflects on some of the biggest issues concerning Saskatchewan, including the economy, a growing drug crisis and, of course, the coronavirus pandemic along with its vaccine rollout.

Moe sits down with Global News’ Allison Bamford to discuss a year to remember.

The following are his answers in a Q&A format.

Q – What grade would you give yourself on the COVID-19 response plan and why?

A – I don’t know if I would grade myself or the government here in Saskatchewan, but I’d probably grade the people of the province and how they have responded to the public health advice that has been provided.

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I’d grade them extremely high, in particular when you compare how the people in Saskatchewan have responded to (provincial chief medical health officer) Dr. (Saqib) Shahab and his office’s advice over the course of the last eight or nine months.

It has worked and we aren’t without our challenges as our community transmission is a little higher going into this Christmas season than I think any of us would like to see it. But we are also starting to push at least the rate of growth of that transmission down. Again, that’s due to what Saskatchewan people are doing.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on the many challenges of 2020 – Part 1'
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on the many challenges of 2020 – Part 1

Q – Some medical professionals have suggested that the response has been motivated by politics rather than health and safety. Do you think there needs to be a discussion on removing politics from pandemic responses?

A – The chief medical health officer has a significant degree of autonomy. Many of the public health orders that we have in place are under his signature, not under the government of Saskatchewan signature. In fact, all of them are under his signature.

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I actually disagree that there’s been politics involved in the responses across the nation. You will see with the response in various areas of the nation many similarities, but you will also see a few differences. And the chief medical health officers would be the first to tell you that what is occurring in one area of the nation may be slightly different in another area.

We need to be aware of what is working and what isn’t in other areas, but we also need to apply the knowledge that we have to our specific area and how the transmission is actually occurring. I would say that there has been less politics in the response to COVID than some surmise.

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Q – We’re now seeing the first of the vaccines finally roll out here in Saskatchewan. What hope can people have heading into the new year?

I’m fairly positive on where we are heading now with our vaccination program. Canada has a large number of vaccines procured and we have been asking, pushing and having conversations with the federal government to see if there is any way to make those vaccines accessible sooner. This is the start of us crossing the finish line. This is the start of us looking for the opportunities that may arise post-COVID.

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Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on the many challenges of 2020 – Part 2'
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on the many challenges of 2020 – Part 2

Q – Why not close down businesses, provide them the government support that they need instead of letting them struggle financially?

A – We are down 20,000 jobs since COVID began last spring. It isn’t lost on me that each and every one of those jobs represents a family income that is supporting that family and those children.

Having a (second) massive shutdown across this province would add to those numbers and many of those jobs would not return. We need to do everything that we can to keep our small businesses, to keep our service-related industry as healthy as possible through this. That’s why we’re allowing them to remain open.

Q – As we talk about those thousands of jobs lost and still trying to recover them, where do you hope the economy will be a year from now?

A – I hope the economy a year from now will at least be back to pre-COVID levels. And I believe it will be. It is my hope that we will actually go beyond where we were pre-COVID.

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We have a great opportunity to provide the food, fuel and fertilizer that the world is going to need as it starts to recover. In doing so, I think we’ll be able to support our own recovery and also start to support the growth that we will be looking for in the years ahead.

Q – Saskatchewan is facing another health crisis, which is record overdose deaths. Where does this land on the list of priorities going into the new year?

A – This is a priority for the government, and has been for a period of time and will be a larger priority as we move forward. That is why we have appointed a minister. Our second minister in the health department is now the minister of mental health and addictions, and he is tasked with ensuring that not only prioritizing investment in this area on behalf of the people of the province, but prioritizing and working towards outcomes with our partners across the province and he is going to continue to work with a large amount of his focus being on mental health and addictions.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on the many challenges of 2020 – Part 3'
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on the many challenges of 2020 – Part 3

Q – What’s your message to the people of Saskatchewan heading into the holidays and into 2021?

A – I would hope people remember that 2021 is going to be a brighter and better year than 2020. The reason it is going to be brighter and better is because of what the Saskatchewan people have done. They have done the heavy lifting over the course of the past year. The vaccines are here. We are going to provide those to the people as quickly as possible and that is going to enable us to begin to cross the finish line.

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Christmas is also always a time to be thankful. The new year is always a time for us to look ahead. I think this is a Christmas season for us in a smaller way, in smaller gatherings to be even more thankful in a larger way of the people that mean so much to us. I think the new year is a time for us to really appreciate the opportunities that lie before us, understanding the challenges that we have faced over the course of the last few months.

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