Sask. reports 32nd COVID-19 death

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Another Saskatchewan resident who tested positive for COVID-19 has died.

The province reported its 32nd COVID-19 death Wednesday. The resident was in their 60s and from the north east zone.

The additional death came the same day 132 new cases of the virus were reported in Saskatchewan. The new cases include 56 in the Saskatoon zone, 18 in the Regina zone and ten in the north central zone, which includes Prince Albert.

Prince Albert’s subzone, north central 2, posted ten new cases Wednesday, bringing the active total to 104.

There are 76 people with COVID-19 in the hospital. Of those, 59 are receiving inpatient care while 17 are in the ICU.

North Central has six inpatients and three intensive care patients.

Tuesday saw 1,619 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan.

Province promises new phase of temporary wage supplement

Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer announced Wednesday a new phase of the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program targeted to workers in long-term, personal care and integrated health care facilities, as well as for home care workers providing care for seniors in their own home.

The supplement will provide $400 a month for two months effective Nov. 19 for eligible workers, regardless of income level.

Application form, eligibility information and program information will be posted at in the coming days.

“As recently announced by Premier Moe, visitation to all long-term care facilities and personal care homes will be suspended, effective November 19, with the exception of compassionate reasons,” Harpauer said in a press release.

 “We recognize the increased workload these new measures place on workers tirelessly caring for our seniors. By creating a new phase of the Temporary Wage Supplement Program, our government will ensure that workers who are impacted by these new measures receive the financial assistance that they need.”

The wage supplement will be provided to full-time, part-time and casual workers, and includes anyone employed by an eligible facility or providing home care services, but does not include third-party contract service providers at those facilities.

People with questions about the program can email or call 1-800-667-6102.

NDP call for circuit breaker lockdown of non-essential services

A day after the premier ruled out a circuit breaker, or temporary lockdown, the Saskatchewan NDP asked for exactly that.

Wednesday, NDP leader Ryan Meili called for a three-week lockdown of non-essential services to keep the health care system from being overwhelmed and to ensure that businesses and communities won’t face longer shutdowns in the future.

Scott Moe ran the election on the premise that the battle against COVID-19 had already been won. Since the election, his government has been too slow to react to the rapidly rising case numbers. The half-measures taken so far have been confusing and ineffective. ” said Meili. “If we want to protect our economy and our businesses, we need to get control of the pandemic. The choice is not between our health care or our economy – it is between a targeted action now or a much more severe lockdown later.”

The NDP said that case numbers have been increasing rapidly in the past weeks while the government went from saying no new measures would be introduced, to implementing what the NDP called “half-measures” last week to the new measures announced Tuesday, “along with a series of reviews that may lead to a lockdown.

“This is simply not enough,” the NDP said.

“More action is needed.”

The NDP is calling for:

  • Closing non-essential businesses and allow retail stores to maintain delivery and curbside service
  • Limiting essential businesses to 25 per cent capacity
  • Allowing bars and restaurants to operate with take-out and delivery only
  • Closing sports, fitness and recreation facilities
  • Closing bingo halls and casinos
  • Keeping schools open at Level 3 throughout the province, with support to reduce class sizes
  • Bringing back the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment Program and fixing it to make it more accessible
  • Providing gap supports similar to what is offered in Manitoba for businesses that are not eligible for federal supports
  • Providing small business innovation grants for business owners that wish to upgrade to online retailing, delivery platforms and virtual service delivery
  • Bringing back the moratorium on residential evictions and stop the clawbacks on housing and income assistance
  • Introducing supports for businesses to keep their employees on the payroll and emergency supports for workers who still find themselves temporarily out of work

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Moe said the choice isn’t between jobs and the economy. He said a second lockdown would cost thousands of jobs.

He said the new measures are intended to avoid a lockdown while allowing businesses to operate safely.

“If we were to lockdown the economy again or to put in place another circuit breaker, there are estimates that we will lose, permanently, tens of thousands of jobs in this province,” Moe said.

“We want to ensure we are doing everything we can to continue to operate the sectors of our economy but also the sectors of our community as safely as we can. We’re going to do everything we can to work with those impacted and to provide every opportunity to stay open … in a safer manner than they are today.”