Advertisement

Saskatoon mayor calls for vaccine passports, province says it’s focusing on vaccination numbers

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon mayor calls for vaccine passports, province says it’s focusing on vaccination numbers' Saskatoon mayor calls for vaccine passports, province says it’s focusing on vaccination numbers
WATCH: Saskatoon's mayor is calling for vaccine passports and other measures to limit what unvaccinated people can do – Aug 25, 2021

Saskatoon’s mayor is calling for vaccine passports and other measures to limit what unvaccinated people can do.

However, the province said it doesn’t have plans to bring back restrictions, or mandate vaccine passports.

Read more: Sask. COVID-19 cases point to less spread among fully-vaccinated, possibility of boosters: experts

Saskatoon is a hotspot for COVID-19, Mayor Charlie Clark said, pointing to the latest wastewater data showing the highest amount of viral load since research began. The Delta variant is the dominant strain in the province, and Clark said this means the pandemic is far from over.

Clark said now is the time to bring in vaccine passports and other measures for public gatherings.

“There’s people that are unvaccinated wanting to participate, that there needs to be some kind of conditions or measures put in place to make sure these events can be done safely,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Effect of B.C. vaccination passport plan on vaccination rates' Effect of B.C. vaccination passport plan on vaccination rates
Effect of B.C. vaccination passport plan on vaccination rates – Aug 24, 2021

Several venues and organizations in Saskatchewan have set their own requirements, but Clark said he wants the provincial government to set universal guidelines. Currently, he said only 68 per cent of the population is vaccinated, and until that number is higher, he said the province should step in.

“It is difficult when everybody has to do it on their own and it becomes a patchwork so the more coordinated we can be the better,” he said.

However, Saskatchewan shows no signs of bringing in vaccine passports unlike other jurisdictions like B.C. or Manitoba.

“There’s some onus on the individual to go out and get vaccinated, that’s the best tool that we have,” said Health Minister Paul Merriman.

“Somebody can be fully-vaccinated within 28 days of not being vaccinated at all, that’s what’s going to bring down our vaccination numbers.”

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: 4 COVID-19 deaths reported in Saskatchewan

He said it is not the government’s place to infringe on the public’s freedoms.

“Public health measures are a stop-gap,” he explained when asked about vaccine passports and mandating masks, calling them tools.

“We have used them in the past when we didn’t have the vaccines.”

He said Saskatchewan needs to focus on getting people vaccinated.

Opposition leader Ryan Meili said the province should be taking the lead instead of leaving rules to mayors and event organizers.

“People are working in schools, people who are working in healthcare facilities, people who are attending big events like Roughriders games and concerts, this is where you have people vaccinated,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Decision on vaccine mandate for Roughriders games to be left to team: Sask. Health Minister' Decision on vaccine mandate for Roughriders games to be left to team: Sask. Health Minister
Decision on vaccine mandate for Roughriders games to be left to team: Sask. Health Minister – Aug 25, 2021

He said he would like to see the provincial government reaching out to unvaccinated people to give them information and possibly encourage them to choose to get vaccinated.

Story continues below advertisement

“Just saying ‘Go get your shot, it’s the thing you should do’, (Merriman is) not wrong, but he’s nowhere near good enough,” Meili said.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are one of two CFL teams without any restrictions on those attending games.

Read more: SIIT not requiring double COVID-19 vaccinations to start the school year

Without restrictions on those games, and other gatherings, one health policy consultant warns Saskatchewan could attract unvaccinated people as visitors.

“We might become an attraction point for unvaccinated people to come and watch CFL games and that really strikes me as being high risk,” said Dr. Dennis Kendel.

Provincial health officials said the focus remains on boosting vaccination rates. Merriman said all signs point to Saskatchewan currently entering the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Advertisement

Sponsored content