A new provincial emergency order was issued on Monday by the Saskatchewan government.
Government officials said this was done to once again provide for “health system labour mobility” through greater flexibility in scheduling and redirecting workers to areas experiencing capacity pressures and in the use of supplementary resources.
The provisions are effective immediately, according to a press release.
Prior to summer 2021, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and health sector unions had agreed to a letter of understanding (LOU) that allowed for labour mobility to help in the COVID-19 response.
This LOU expired when the state of emergency was lifted earlier this year.
Government officials said if the SHA and unions could not reach an agreement by Monday, another provincial emergency order would be signed to reactivate the previous provisions that enabled emergency labour mobility.
“We are grateful for the efforts of all health-care providers and their commitment to patients, residents and clients especially during these unprecedented times. Their work is both valued and appreciated,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a press release.
“We appreciate the leadership of the SHA, affiliates, unions and all health care workers and know they are all committed to continue problem solving and working together to meet the challenge of the pandemic.”
The Saskatchewan NDP said the reason why the government is imposing new labour measures now is “because (it) failed to take any of the steps necessary to get the fourth wave of COVID-19 under control.”
“If (Premier) Scott Moe had listened to (chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib) Shahab and public health experts and introduced indoor masking and proof of vaccination requirements, our health-care system wouldn’t be in this dire situation and on the brink of collapse,” read a statement from the official Opposition.
“Scott Moe took his eye off the ball and took the summer off. He should have been working collaboratively with health-care workers throughout the summer to ensure these necessary agreements were in place.
“Instead, we now have arrangements being imposed on workers, record numbers of new COVID-19 cases, and non-COVID patients being forced to go without needed treatments. All of this could have been prevented if Scott Moe had listened to the experts and focused on controlling the fourth wave.”
According to the government’s dashboard on Monday, hospitals are currently providing care for 209 patients with COVID-19 and there are 3,776 active cases in Saskatchewan.