Sask. not implementing vaccine mandates or indoor masking

The Saskatchewan government says it will not be following in the path of other provinces that have introduced vaccine mandates and reimplemented indoor masking.

On Tuesday, Manitoba announced it will require vaccinations for provincial health-care workers, teachers, and those who work with vulnerable populations.

It also reintroduced indoor masking.

“We’re in a serious situation. We’re taking pre-emptive action because we want to avoid the magnitude of what we saw in the second and third wave,” said Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.

Manitoba is also expanding the list of services and activities that can only be accessed if someone is fully immunized against COVID-19.

A spokesperson for the Saskatchewan government said Tuesday that the province is not following Manitoba’s path at this time.

“Currently, there are no plans to implement provincewide restrictions or vaccination mandates,” said the government statement.

“We know that the best protection against COVID-19 is provided through the vaccine and we encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated if they have not already done so.”

The government said it is monitoring the COVID-19 cases and “will continue to take advice from the chief medical health officer.”

Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab last addressed the province on July 7 when public health restrictions and the state of emergency were about to be lifted.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Dr. Saqib Shahab shake hands at the final regularly scheduled COVID-19 update on July 7, 2021. Neither has formally addressed the public on COVID-19 since. (CBC)

Last week, Moe said a vaccine mandate for provincial employees was not on the table.

“It’s not something the government has discussed up to this point, but most certainly I would encourage every individual in this province to look at the data that we’re providing, look at how effective vaccines are.”

Moe again encouraged people to get their vaccination.

“I understand there are some that have made a different decision to not get vaccinated. I disagree with that decision.”

On Tuesday, Saskatchewan Opposition Leader Ryan Meili accused Moe of “hanging out on the golf course and not doing his job.”

Meili said other provinces are holding briefings, releasing modelling, and announcing policies in preparation for a fourth wave spurred by a more contagious delta variant.

“The premier shook Dr. Shahab’s hand and said to the province, you’re on your own.”

Meili said it was “baffling” the government was not doing more to protect people and the health-care system.

He said he supported a vaccine mandate for health-care workers and vaccine requirements to attend large events in the province.

Ontario recently introduced mandatory vaccines for publicly funded teachers and health-care workers.

“We are preparing aggressively for the fall. I’m sorry to say I think it’s going to be a difficult fall and winter,” said Ontario Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Kieran Moore when he introduced the new policies.

Quebec will require health-care workers to be fully vaccinated.

“The fourth wave is here, it is strong, the delta variant is very contagious, and there is a true risk,” said Quebec Premier François Legault last week.

On Tuesday, British Columbia reintroduced mandatory indoor masking and a policy that will require proof-of-vaccine for anyone who wants to attend a concert, sporting event, movie, restaurant, nightclub, casino or fitness class.

“We see most of the transmission amongst unvaccinated people in social settings, and this action directly focuses on that,” said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Unvaccinated people currently account for about 90 per cent of COVID-19 cases in B.C., and 93 per cent of hospitalizations.

Saskatchewan’s numbers are almost identical. In July,  90 per cent of all new cases and hospitalizations were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people. 

According to the province, 95 per cent of ICU admissions were not fully vaccinated and 100 per cent of deaths were people who had not been vaccinated.

As of Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Edmonton Elks were the only CFL teams not to require fans to prove vaccination status to gain entry

Proof-of-vaccination has now been mandated in many places in Saskatchewan. Here are some examples:

  • The University of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic have announced vaccine requirements.
  • Saskatoon’s Congregation Agudas Israel synagogue is only admitting those who are vaccinated to services, except children who are not yet eligible.
  • Saskatoon’s Amigos Cantina is requiring staff, fans, and artists to be fully vaccinated to attend shows this fall.

Saskatchewan vaccinations trail 8 other provinces

Saskatchewan and Alberta trail the other provinces in the percentage of people partially and fully vaccinated.

In Saskatchewan, 69 per cent of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated, while 58 per cent of the total population has had both doses.

Among provinces, only Alberta has vaccinated a lower percentage of its eligible population and overall population.

Across Canada, 75 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated and 65 per cent of the total population has received two doses.

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