This weekend is the Sask Party Convention and AGM at TCU Place, and today is the day we are protesting it. Most of us know some of the reasons why. Premier Scott Moe’s irresponsible and shortsighted declaration of early victory led to most of the unnecessary death we have seen from COVID-19 in Saskatchewan. High mortality continues to be a reality in our overwhelmed ICUs. This in spite of the fact that we now know the government was aware of modelling which predicted a public health disaster in June, preceding their July announcement to lift all restrictions.
These stark facts alone about the recent past would be reason enough to call for apologies and resignations on the part of Moe and his Health Minister, Paul Merriman, and plenty of reasons to protest today. Yet, they continue to push the messaging that they have righted the course simply by introducing measures (belatedly, and with no apologies) more in line with other provinces.
We disagree that they are on top of this, and medical health authorities are already warning of a “fifth wave” because of it. This is no time to muddle through. The recent past is bad enough, but the Moe government has not turned the page.
Thus we humbly offer these 10 reasons you should come to the protest today that have to do with the current measures they have brought to Saskatchewan and the future problems on the imminent horizon, unless they stop doubling down against the medical advice provided to them by their Medical Health Officers.
- Thousands of critically important surgeries in Saskatchewan are now delayed, likely until March.
What’s worse, Premier Moe has suggested relieving this pressure on the system through the expansion of private healthcare in testing, tracing and isolation. Left unchecked, more procedures are sure to be privatized as a “solution” to the government-created crisis, and we must press the Moe government to solve it via universally accessible health services.
- Moe has doubled down on refusing indoor gathering limits to curb the spread of the virus.rb the spread of the virus.
Even as Moe’s approval rating has plummeted, no indoor gathering limits exist going into the winter holiday season, in spite of the explicit recommendations from the Medical Health Officers. He has instead lashed out at anyone suggesting this as advocating for a sweeping lockdown. Moreover, Moe continues to gaslight the province that this is somehow unfair to vaccinated people.
- Even with vaccine mandates/passports in place, vaccine uptake is far too slow.
We support vaccine mandates/passports for a number of reasons but primarily because they raise the percentage of people vaccinated. However, slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires more than using one tool, even a very good tool like vaccination. For instance, no programme exists to educate or convince persons who are vaccine-hesistant, or to significantly combat disinformation.
- Proof of vaccination is required in more venues, dropping the alternative of presenting a negative test option.
This is not only required to get more people vaccinated in Saskatchewan, but because presenting a negative test option is not equivalent to being vaccinated.
- Reduction in seating capacity in many venues is required but not on the radar.
- Proof of vaccination should be required for accessing in-person learning for children 12 years and older, and for households of those under 12 who cannot be immunized yet.
We agree with the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation that it makes little sense to demand teachers to be vaccinated to deliver in-person learning without also making the same requirement for children over 12 and their parents.
- Proof of vaccination should also be required for teachers and staff in all schools and day care facilities.
- Government must have consistent messaging of the seriousness of the situation.
No more confusing loopholes and exceptions that have plagued past measures and have caused public health orders to not be taken seriously.
- The Moe government continues to present a false rosy picture of economic recovery.
While often presenting the lack of public health measures as “balancing” the economy with the need to control the virus, life simply does not get back to normal if the pandemic is raging, and people concerned about the virus pull back from public life even without provincial mandates in place. As restaurateurs have noted, People simply don’t wan’t to eat out when cases are high. As a result, Saskatchewan has lost 11500 jobs since the pandemic began, but has lost 6500 of those in September and October.
- The Moe government will not move in the right direction unless in a crisis and pushed by people who see the writing on the wall.
We need to ask if we are satisfied with the approach of lifting restrictions at the slightest moment of improvement (resulting in endless ‘waves’ that culls a signficant number of us and ultimately requires periodic restriction of social, family and economic life), or are serious about kicking COVID out of our province for good.
A final note about the protest, and reason for going. A lot of the debate about what we should do is limited to online, and talking between experts and politicians (or, more like experts talking at politicians who aren’t listening.) The Moe government sees protests against vaccine mandates, mandated mask-wearing, and against doing anything about COVID at all, and assumes that represents the majority of opinion in our province. Yet there is little representation from the majority of people in our province who do not fear COVID, but take it seriously— who take seriously what experts say and predict. From people who don’t want a new normal of COVID where restrictions come and go for years and where extra deaths happen among too many of us every year — from our parents to our children. But for this freedom from COVID to happen — we have to deal with the pandemic, not ignore it.
We can beat COVID if we take it seriously. We can get free.
We hope to see you there. We gather today at 11 at 22nd Street East and Pacific Avenue near TCU Place. Masks and standing a distance apart from people outside your household (when possible) during the protest is required, your fully vaxxed attendance is requested. Please RSVP on the Facebook event.
NOTE: We are also encouraging all attendees to stay for the protest event at 12 that immediately follows ours, put on by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, Convention Intervention. (See their Facebook Event). The “Convention Intervention” is a chance for us to tell the Sask Party how their decisions have had consequences on all our lives, and demand action and accountability.