Report from the Legislature – April 22, 2021

Saskatchewan’s vaccination rollout is going well and we’re getting COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of residents as quickly as we’re receiving them. In fact, we are leading all Canadian provinces in vaccine doses administered per 100,000 of the population. If we are going to keep up this pace, we need the federal government to procure more vaccines ASAP.

Thank you for being patient, understanding, and for observing public health orders to keep our friends, families, and communities safe. Thanks also for doing everything you can to keep our province moving. Health professionals, emergency responders, service providers, business owners and employees have all worked tirelessly to adapt and, thanks to these efforts, Saskatchewan will be stronger than ever once the pandemic is over.

Our government is actively working on a plan to re-open Saskatchewan safely in a post-COVID world – but we aren’t there yet. The best thing we can do right now to protect ourselves, others, and to get back to doing the things we love is by following public health orders and getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to us.

Residents ages 40 and over who have contracted COVID-19 have seen the most severe outcomes, accounting for 84 per cent of total hospitalizations and 96 per cent of total deaths. To reduce the risk of these severe outcomes, we are working towards opening vaccine eligibility to all residents ages 40 and over. AstraZeneca is being integrated into the vaccination rollout plan and will be used to immunize adults 40 years and older.

Once vaccine eligibility has been opened to all residents ages 40 and over, we will prioritize access through mass-vaccination settings to remaining prioritized first-responders along with additional front-line workers ages 16+, depending on vaccine product, including police officers, firefighters, front-line healthcare workers with direct patient contact employed by the SHA or private employers (including dentists, optometrists, chiropractors), teachers and educational staff working directly with students, correctional staff, and border security officers.

Countries further along than Canada in their vaccination rollout are seeing significant reductions in both their case numbers and hospitalization numbers, and I am confident we will see the same results here. Thank you to all staff working at clinics across the province. Every shot, in every arm, makes Saskatchewan a little safer. The vaccines work, the vaccines are safe, and when it’s your turn, I strongly encourage you to roll up your sleeve and stick it to COVID.

While COVID-19 accelerated the use of virtual health care technology, its expansion is improving access to care for residents in rural and remote areas, and providing convenience for patients who need to connect with a physician for basic concerns.

The Ministry of Health and eHealth are developing an action plan to enhance virtual services, focusing on security, privacy, and user experience. Priorities will include videoconferencing, remote patient monitoring, and MySaskHealthRecord. In support of this, Saskatchewan has signed a bilateral agreement with the Government of Canada to expand virtual care services.

Saskatchewan is leading Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19, something that is reflected in a remarkable 25 per cent increase in wholesale trade growth. Strong wholesale trade numbers, a leading economic indicator, coupled with the best vaccine rollout plan in the country, shows our province will see a quicker economic recovery than other jurisdictions.

As the spring sitting of the legislature rolls on, our government continues to deliver on its commitments as part of this year’s provincial budget, including increased funding for the Veteran Service Club Support Program from $100,000 to $1,500,000. This will continue supporting veterans and their families in Saskatchewan by helping to keep Legions operational and make the necessary improvements to continue serving our heroes.

Recent legislation includes amendments to further support agricultural technology development by providing authority for Innovation Saskatchewan to make investments in agtech startups through a Venture Capital fund. The changes will allow for new investment into game-changing technology for farmers and producers that will help accelerate our economic recovery and become a significant economic driver for our province.

Other changes include a move to restrict the sale of flavoured vapour products to adult-only vape shops and limiting marketing and availability to youth. Building upon the legislation this government introduced to regulate vape products as we do tobacco, we want to provide our youth with every opportunity to choose to be tobacco and vape-free.

As always, if you have questions, concerns or feedback about provincial government programs or services, please contact my Constituency office.