Retired Sask. doc slams 'piecemeal approach' to COVID-19 restrictions

As more Saskatchewan municipalities move to implement COVID-19 mitigation measures, a retired family physician is frustrated over the lack of response from the provincial government to the recent surge of new cases and hospitalizations.

“I really do feel that the provincial government ought to have re-instituted a masking mandate provincially because this piecemeal approach from each municipality going at it is really dysfunctional, it leaves a lot of people unprotected,” said Dr. Dennis Kendel, who is also a health policy consultant.

“I was profoundly disappointed in the presser yesterday with Dr. Shahab and Premier Moe.”

During Monday’s virtual news conference, Premier Scott Moe echoed statements made by Health Minister Paul Merriman last week, who said the government will neither reinstate COVID-19 restrictions nor enforce vaccine requirements.

Instead the province announced it will roll out a proof of COVID-19 vaccination document and begin delivering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots beginning Sept. 7.

Frontline healthcare workers will also be asked to provide proof of vaccination or undergo regular testing, the province said.

On Monday Saskatoon City Council unanimously voted to reinstate the requirement of non-medical face coverings for all city employees at city-run facilities such as City Hall and leisure centres.

The mask mandate also extends to residents accessing these facilities and Saskatoon Transit users. The masking mandate takes effect Sept. 1.

The city said it would provide masks for people for two weeks, but the mask mandate was indefinite.

“We’re taking steps now that will help prevent the potential to have to take further more restrictive measures down the road,” said Mayor Charlie Clark during a virtual news conference Tuesday.

“Business leaders are concerned if we don’t do the right things now to stop the spread of COVID we might be forced to take more dire measures down the road.”

Without a provincial mandate Clark said many people are left unprotected from the disease.

”I'm concerned that a patchwork approach does leave more holes for COVID to be able to spread and so I do believe that will be helpful to have a higher level of coordination at the provincial level around this.”

The City of Regina took its COVID-19 mitigation strategy a little further, mandating masks at city facilities but also requiring proof of vaccination effective Sept. 20.

This week the Saskatchewan Roughriders also announced fans looking to attend the last three home games at Mosaic Stadium will need to show proof of vaccination.

Saskatchewan was one of the last CFL teams to implement that type of requirement.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association issued a news release applauding the measures municipalities and organizations have made in response to the fourth wave of the pandemic sweeping across Saskatchewan.

“So many of us have been making sacrifices for a year and a half, and we will continue to have to do so during this fourth wave,” said SMA president Dr. Eben Strydom in a news release.

“Unfortunately, predictive modelling is showing that with increased contacts, no provincial public health restrictions, and low vaccination rates, Saskatchewan will continue to see steep and swift growth in case numbers and hospitalizations. I daresay we already are.”

Strydom also thanked businesses large and small, and various organizations that have or are considering public health measures, plus a growing number of concert venues and bars that will require patrons and staff to be fully vaccinated, according to the news release.

The City of Warman could be the next municipality to introduce public health orders for civic centres and employees.

On Thursday, Warman City Council is set to vote on whether the city should require masks in all civic facilities and requirements for city staff who are unvaccinated.

Do you have a story idea or news tip? Email us.