Vocal critic of COVID-19 health measures among Sask. ICU patients moved to Ont., supporters say

A former federal candidate and prominent critic of public health measures during the pandemic is among the handful of COVID-19 ICU patients that were moved to Ontario this week.

That's according to information provided by his supporters in a video shared online.

On Monday, the Saskatchewan government announced that some ICU patients would be transferred to Ontario to help relieve pressure on the province's health care system which has been stretched to its limits by the fourth wave of COVID-19.

In an update, broadcast from the room where Mark Friesen often streams videos online, supporter Tamara Lavoie said Friesen has been moved to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

In the video, Lavoie said she and others gained access to Friesen's "Grizz's Den" studio in order to update his followers. Friesen often refers to himself as the "Grizzly Patriot" online.

Lavoie, who has also opposed COVID-19-related public health measures, did not say Friesen has tested positive for COVID-19.

"Mark has been in the hospital with pneumonia for the last three weeks, he was in ICU here in Saskatoon," Lavoie said in the video.

During a teleconference on Friday, Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency president Marlo Pritchard said at this point only COVD-19 ICU patients are being moved out of province.

In the video Lavoie and another supporter, former B.C. PPC candidate Jody Craven, solicit donations they say will be directed to Friesen's family.

Friesen, who is typically active on Twitter, often using the platform to share his views concerning public health measures during the pandemic, has not tweeted since Sept. 30.

Attempts by CTV News to contact Friesen or his family have been unsuccessful.

Friesen, who ran for the People's Party of Canada (PPC) in the Saskatoon-Grasswood riding, spoke to CTV News on election night.

Like many at the PPC event held at the Saskatoon Inn, which is under investigation by police, Friesen opted not to wear a mask despite a provincial mandate that had recently come into effect.

"A lot of people aren't scared of COVID here, they're just not scared of it. And even if somebody was to possibly succumb to it, we just look at it as, that's life, that's an experience," Friesen said at the time.

After the onset of the pandemic, Friesen emerged as a prominent voice in Saskatchewan criticizing COVID-19-related public health rules and organizing "freedom rally" protests against such measures.

In late September, Friesen was part of an effort to pause Saskatchewan's then-forthcoming proof-of-vaccination policy through a court injunction.

The request was quickly quashed by a judge.

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