Premier Scott Moe is pretending to be cautious and conservative about COVID-19 policy. Is this working for him? Is it working for Saskatchewan? Not really because everyone in Saskatchewan is enraged at him while the rest of Canada is staring at us in wide-eyed disbelief. It is difficult to understand who Scott Moe is trying to please with his decision to “wait and see” before he implements public health measures such as gathering restrictions. After all, Saskatchewan’s lack of gathering restrictions has not appeased the Saskatchewan Party base. For the record, gathering restrictions are a tool currently in place in every other Canadian province, even the ones run by conservative governments, and this tool is being used in every other nation that Moe has claimed that he is watching. In the last couple of weeks, plenty of evidence has emerged about the danger posed by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, but Scott Moe still won’t do anything. He continues to just wait and see.
Scott Moe makes bad policy decisions
Despite the fast pace of current events, most of us remember the Delta wave when Saskatchewan’s hospitals became so overwhelmed with critically ill patients that many had to be airlifted to Ontario for ICU treatment. This was a policy disaster of epic proportions, but it could have been avoided. Did any other province require their ill residents to be airlifted to safety? The answer is no. Even worse, Scott Moe was so determined to avoid accepting federal help to ease the misery in Saskatchewan hospitals, that he first sought medical staff be sent from the United States. Yes. That’s right. While residents of Saskatchewan couldn’t get needed surgeries, children with disabilities could not get crucial therapies, and COVID-19 infected patients couldn’t get the critical care they needed, Scott Moe STILL delayed asking for help. Clearly, Scott Moe has a well developed measure of self-esteem. He seems to think that he can save Saskatchewan from COVID-19 without the help of any pesky medical experts.
It became apparent when the ‘Best Summer Ever’ was winding down that new infections were beginning to rise. In the United States, schools open in mid-August, which led to an immediate and significant rise in cases in that country. Schools in several US states were forced to close as 1 million school children contracted COVID-19. Scott Moe was aware of this, as was every other political leader in North America. Don’t think for a single moment that he was not shown the numbers. The hard truth is that Scott Moe looked at modelling, read the statistics, discussed the consequences with his advisors, and then chose NOT TO ACT. There were no public health measures in place at all until October 1st, 2021. Before that, people who tested positive for COVID-19 didn’t even have to isolate!
In hindsight, the October health orders were too little and too late. Now it is January and the whole nightmare is starting again.
Is Scott Moe making the best decisions about Omicron?
It takes a super long learning curve to make the exact same disastrous mistake just a month after watching your constituents die in record numbers. Scott Moe has shown everyone how painfully long his hubris filled learning curve actually is, and it is the people of Saskatchewan who must suffer the consequences of his folly. Will the Omicron wave be as bad as the Delta wave? Scott Moe has told us that he wants to wait and see before he acts.
Saskatchewan had barely ended the deadly Delta wave when Omicron emerged, so you would think what went wrong last time would still be fresh in Scott Moe’s mind. Nope. In just a few weeks, Omicron has replaced Delta as a cause of new COVID-19 infections, but Scott Moe has a hunch that Omicron is so mild that public health measures such as gathering restrictions won’t be necessary. Instead of taking pre-emptive precautions, Scott Moe wants to keep schools fully open, allow gatherings of unlimited size, and provide elaborate loopholes that allow anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists a fun night on the town. Will this be enough? All we can do is wait and see.
What we do know for sure is that Omicron is hitting Saskatchewan, and everywhere, hard. Already, Canada has documented more cases of Omicron in the last month than there were total cases of COVID-19 in the last year! Likewise, the United States saw 1.13 million new infections in a single day, which is a global record. That should scare Scott Moe into some sort of action, but so far it hasn’t.
Although many conspiracy theorists are claiming that Omicron is so mild that it doesn’t send people to the hospital, the United States have also broken their former hospitalization record. As of January 10th, there are 132,646 Americans currently hospitalized with COVID-19. This surge in hospitalizations is directly due to the fact that the seven day average for new cases has doubled over the last 10 days. Although Omicron might be milder, the vast numbers of infected people is overwhelming hospitals around the world.
Does Scott Moe even know what is going on?
Does Scott Moe know about this? You can be sure that he does. An entire team of Saskatchewan bureaucrats are well paid to ensure the Premier knows everything there is to know about all the important things worth knowing. There is an old saying that applies to this situation. You can lead a Premier to water, but you can’t make them read the briefing note… or something like that.
In the meantime, we are forced to wait and see. Saskatchewan people have long memories though. They are going to remember all of this come the next provincial election.