Six of Saskatchewan’s largest unions, representing 113,000 front-line workers, are demanding stricter COVID-19 regulations.
Union leaders in the healthcare and education sectors are demanding the province implement a gathering limit of 10, creation of a new public health order to limit non-essential contacts, establishing a “consistent bubble,” and enforce reducing non-essential travel between communities.
Tracy Zambory, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, says workers are stretched thin and health-care facilities don’t have staff or space for more patients.
Involved organizations include the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union, and the Service Employees International Union West.
Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer
Dr. Saqib Shahad said a peak in cases could come in the next two weeks, in light of record-high positivity.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe denounced lockdowns last week, and continues to provide justification for that decision. He caught COVID-19 the next day.
“ICU admissions and COVID-19 related deaths remain significantly lower than other provinces that have strict lockdown policies in effect,” said Moe on Twitter.
“Omicron is spreading across Canada and around the world, whether there are lockdown policies in place or not, so we are not going to impose new restrictions and lockdowns that cause significant harm for no clear benefit.”
Moe pointed out there have been zero COVID-19 deaths in the province in nearly two weeks, compared to more than 700 COVID-19 related deaths in Quebec this month.
“Saskatchewan’s current hospitalization rate is 16 per 100,000 population and our current ICU rate is 1.5 per 100,000 population,” said Moe.
“Quebec has had the most extreme lockdowns policies in Canada since before Christmas, and their current rates are about 40 hospitalizations and 3.3 ICU admissions per 100,000 population — more than double Saskatchewan’s rates.”
The Saskatchewan government has not responded to the union demand or updated restrictions since January 12.
Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard