Trudeau attacks Sask. COVID-19 response

The Liberal leader said Premier Scott Moe's leadership on the latest wave of the pandemic is putting people and the economy at risk.

Leader Post 2 minute read September 14, 2021

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Saskatchewan's Premier Scott Moe on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Nov. 12, 2019. PATRICK DOYLE / REUTERS

Justin Trudeau accused Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe of putting people and the economy at risk because of what the Liberal leader sees as a weak COVID-19 response in the province.

Moe’s office dismissed the criticism as “politically charged.”

Trudeau made those comments during a campaign stop in Richmond, B.C. on Tuesday. He was asked whether he has advice for the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan as they deal with nation-leading COVID-19 case numbers putting pressure on their hospital systems, and how he would work with them if his Liberal government is re-elected on Sept. 20.

He said millions of people in Alberta and Saskatchewan have done the right thing to get vaccinated and are now at risk because others are not getting vaccinated. Both provinces have the lowest vaccination rates in the nation. He said vaccine passports are among the best ways to motivate people to get the shot, but neither province has implemented government-mandated proof of vaccine requirements.

“I feel bad, really bad, for those people in Alberta and Saskatchewan who’ve stepped up to do the right things. Yes, it’s a lower number than elsewhere in the country as a proportion, but it’s still a majority,” he said.

“And because of leadership that will not commit to keeping them safe in the right way or even protecting the economy the right way, they are facing greater risks because of cancelled surgeries, they are facing emergency public health restrictions that may have to be brought in.”

Asked for comment, Moe’s office responded with the following statement:

“We have no comment on a politically-charged statement from one of the federal party leaders on a serious health challenge affecting all Canadians,” said an email from press secretary Julie Leggott.

Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 cases are now averaging about 377 cases per day, according to the seven-day average published by the provincial government. There were 209 people in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19 in Saskatchewan as of Monday.

Trudeau’s government announced vaccine requirements for air and train travel immediately before the election, and has pledged to assist provinces with similar provincial vaccine certification.

He argued Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole would be less effective “sitting across the table from Jason Kenney or Scott Moe.”

Moe recently reinstated self-isolation requirements for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and announced actions in the health system to prepare for a further surge of patients, including by reducing some elective and non-critical services. He also announced a vaccine requirement for all health workers.