The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) is denouncing a protest at the private residence of the province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, this past weekend.
The Regina Police Service (RPS) said officers responded shortly after 2:30 p.m. and monitored the situation until the protesters left around 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 23.
SMA president Dr. Barb Konstantynowicz said the protest was an effort by a small group of protesters to harass and intimidate one of its members and they stand firmly with Shahab and all of his public health colleagues working through the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Bringing a protest to Dr. Shahab’s private residence is absolutely unacceptable and the SMA condemns these actions,” Konstantynowicz said in a press release on Monday.
“The SMA is extremely grateful for Dr. Shahab’s tireless, dedicated efforts in fighting the pandemic on behalf of the people of the province.
“Since the pandemic, physicians and all health-care providers have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to caring for and putting the safety Saskatchewan citizens first. Everyone’s effort to reduce the spread of this virus is critical … measures such as mask wearing, physical distancing, hand-washing and limiting the size of gatherings, remain the best defence against COVID-19 spread.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe released a statement after the protest saying it was “simply unacceptable, sickening and wrong.”
Konstantynowicz said she commends the premier for denouncing these kinds of tactics as wrong and misdirected.
According to Moe’s statement, the provincial government is evaluating “long-term security options to ensure that Dr. Shahab can continue focusing on providing the valuable advice he has throughout the pandemic without needing to worry about his personal safety or that of his family.”
The provincial government released a statement during the noon hour on Monday.
“The Ministry of Health has indicated that Dr. Shahab will not let this incident distract him from continuing his important ongoing work,” read the statement.
“Both Premier Moe and Dr. Shahab will be available tomorrow afternoon to provide a COVID-19 update, including addressing the current public health orders which are set to expire on Friday and providing an update on Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 vaccine delivery plan.”
The SMA, the provincial chapter of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), says it’s the voice of over 2,400 practising physicians in Saskatchewan.
The CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS), Dr. Karen Shaw, said they are disappointed to hear of this occurrence.
“Saskatchewan physicians have a right to be safe and to feel safe. Our (CMHO) Dr. Shahab is no exception,” Shaw said in a statement provided to Global News on Monday.
“While protestors may wish to express their dissatisfaction with the position that the CMHO and/or the government are taking pertaining to the pandemic, there are more appropriate and respectful ways to do so, than protesting outside someone’s personal domain.”