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COVID-19 surges in Saskatchewan but first responders not experiencing staff shortages

Saskatoon Fire Department responded to a garage fire on the 1300 block of Avenue B North during the early hours of May 10, 2022. No injuries were reported. File / Global News

Despite Saskatchewan breaking records for daily and active COVID-19 cases, first responders aren’t facing staffing shortages.

As of Sunday’s provincial update, there are a record 7,418 active cases in Saskatchewan. Global News reached out to six agencies in the province to ask about their staffing and operations should things take a turn for the worst.

Saskatoon Police

The Saskatoon Police Service has seen “a bit of an increase” in cases due to Omicron, however a “very small percentage” of the force has been affected by COVID-19 and the new variant.

Spokesperson Brad Jennings said a majority of infections were the result of community and not workplace transmissions.

“With the new variant being extremely contagious, we are reminding staff to adhere to guidelines set out by the province and remain diligent with COVID safety protocols, masking and sanitization efforts,” Jennings added.

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SPS is also encouraging its members to use rapid tests often, and book a COVID-19 booster shot.

Read more: Declared COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan

Earlier this week, the Winnipeg Police Service declared a state of emergency after 90 active cases were reported and 170 people booked off time due to illness.

But Deputy Chief Mitch Yuzdepski said the SPS has a business continuity plan in place to ensure there will be no disruption to frontline services.

“This plan includes folding in other police units to support frontline resources as required,” Yuzdepski added.

“Based on the current situation with the Omicron variant we have seen an increase in the number of staff off work because of the requirement to self-isolate, however, we have not had to activate any phases of our business continuity plan at this time.”

Yuzdepski added that SPS continues to monitor the situation and will adjust resources when needed.

“We are confident that our ability to provide front-line services will not be negatively impacted.”

Regina Police Service

Fewer than a dozen employees currently have COVID-19, according to Regina Police Service spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich.

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The force has had a pandemic plan for a long time and may take certain actions depending on the circumstances.

This may include re-deploying whole (non-patrol) sections to frontline response, if needed.

“We employed that aspect of the plan in late 2020 and early 2021, when we adopted a dispersed readiness approach, with some employees on stand-by, working from home,” Popowich said.

Medavie Health Services

Troy Davies with Medavie Health Services told Global News none of their frontline paramedics were off due to COVID-19 as of last week.

Saskatoon Fire Department

Saskatoon Fire Chief Morgan Hackl said the fire department is not currently experiencing any “significant staffing challenges.”

“However, we continue to watch and plan for any impact of the Omicron variant on staffing levels by reviewing our business continuity plan to ensure that core safety services can continue to operate in the community.”

Read more: Regina nurse recovering after second liver transplant

Regina Fire

Regina Fire & Protective Services is not experiencing any “significant staffing issues”.

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All city departments continue to monitor the situation and have contingency plans in place, according to a City of Regina spokesperson.

“If there are any impacts on our service delivery, we are committed to communicate those disruptions accordingly.”

Saskatchewan RCMP

Saskatchewan RCMP confirmed to Global News that officers “in a small number of RCMP detachments” tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms and are in isolation.

The force did not release specific numbers as they fluctuate daily.

“The majority of exposures to date have been related to community or personal contacts and not related to policing duties or interactions with the public,” their statement read.

“The Saskatchewan RCMP has been preparing for this eventuality since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Read more: B.C. police, first responders brace for staffing impacts of Omicron surge

The Saskatchewan RCMP has contingency plans and business continuity plans in place to make sure detachments are able to provide services to residents.

The RCMP has more than 120 detachments spread throughout the province.

“The wide geographical placement of these detachments allows the RCMP to shift resources from one area experiencing low levels of COVID-19 to areas with greater infection rates. This ensures that detachments remain open and able to provide essential policing services.”

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