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Home News NDP leader calls on government to bring in outside help to fight COVID-19 during stop in PA

NDP leader calls on government to bring in outside help to fight COVID-19 during stop in PA

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NDP leader calls on government to bring in outside help to fight COVID-19 during stop in PA
NDP leader Ryan Meili. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Opposition leader Ryan Meili called on the provincial government to ask for outside help to reduce the stress on Saskatchewan’s healthcare system during a stop in Prince Albert on Thursday.

Meili said healthcare workers and contact tracers in Prince Albert are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated due to the increase in positive COVID cases. He said the government has “clearly taken their eyes off the ball” over the past few months, and now emergency action is needed.

“Our hospitals are overwhelmed, and that includes the hospital here that’s seen a ton of COVID patients have to be admitted, the ICU full, (and) folks being transferred,” Meili said during an interview Thursday afternoon. “It’s really a ton of stress for the workers who have been working so hard already for nearly two years.”

Saskatchewan hit an all-time high for ICU patients on Thursday. There are 273 total COVID patients in hospitals across the province, including 58 in intensive care.

Thursday’s numbers broke the previous ICU record, which was set on Monday.

Saskatchewan also reported 460 new COVID-19 cases, and seven new deaths, one of which was in North Central.

Meili said preventative measures should have been put in place over the summer. He’d still like to see tighter health restrictions, but said the government needs to do a better job of managing the effects of COVID-19 now too.

“We need to be looking at all the ways we can increase capacity, but it’s not as simple as just putting some more beds in a school gym,” he explained. “You need nurses. You need the equipment. You need the staff to staff things, so we need to be also reaching out to other provinces, reaching out to the military, finding out what is available so we can scale up not only our physical response, but also the human resource response.”

Meili also called on the province to create more incentives to get vaccinated, and create provincial vaccine mandates for schools and other venues where large numbers of people gather.

Premier Scott Moe took to social media on Thursday, blasting the federal government for failing to do more to get vaccines to far north Indigenous communities.

Moe said the vaccination rate in the north is at less than 50 per cent, and blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for spending time on a pointless election campaign rather than helping improve vaccination rates in the north.

“(The Prime Minister) has many communities across this province that are exclusively federal jurisdiction,” Moe said in a video posted to the premier’s social media accounts. “The province has stepped forward to do what we can to increase our vaccination rate in these areas.”

Meili said there were plenty of things that could have been done without the federal government’s help, but those actions needed to take place months ago.

“Not getting this under control in July and August really has put incredible hardship on PA,” Meili said. “I heard the premier today trying to blame the north using divisive dog-whistle language to try to suggest that it’s a certain part of the province that’s to blame. This is someone who should be taking responsibility and apologizing for his own lack of actions. Instead he’s doing anything he can to deflect, divide and distract from his own broken record.”