The people of Saskatchewan have been delivered yet another shock. It turns out that Premier Scott Moe and his government have justified their public health policy on false data. Nearly everyone has heard by now that a “database error” gave the impression that people had stopped dying from Covid19. Although the Provincial Dashboard website reported zero COVID19 deaths over a two week period, the tragic reality is that 9 deaths had occurred and that a substantial number of hospital admissions were missing from the totals. The database error itself, claimed to have been accidental, may not have been of much consequence now that the problem has been corrected. Premier Scott Moe, however, enthusiastically used the false report of zero deaths to proclaim that his policies were working, that further health measures were not required, and that all the other provinces were overreacting. This was a blunder that will follow Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan party long after the pandemic finally ends.
Did the Government of Saskatchewan truly not know?
We may never know the whole truth about who knew about the “database error” and when they learned of it. We do know, however, that the Saskatchewan Dashboard is a public facing information source. The Government of Saskatchewan itself, especially those in a position to advise the Premier and the Minister of Health, have better and more complete data available to them. The hard truth is that it is unlikely that the Government was unaware that the published statistics did not match their internal documents. Not for that long, and certainly not after the Premier started raving about lack of deaths.
While Premier Scott Moe cited zero deaths as a political win against those who call for stronger public health orders, there were 9 Saskatchewan families that knew the truth. Each of the nine people who died from COVID19 had a network of people around them that knew the dashboard statistics were wrong. After all, doctors filled out paperwork, nurses prepared bodies to be collected, and families were suddenly forced to make final arrangements for their loved one’s remains. Many people were aware that the Dashboard was inaccurate. Why didn’t the Premier? After all, Premier Scott Moe seems to want us to believe he has a handle on the pandemic and knows how best to navigate it.
Trying to get through the COVID-19 pandemic with Premier Scott Moe is like finding yourself in a storm-tossed boat at night with a helmsman who refuses to heed navigation instruments as he relies instead on a buddy yelling out directions based on his “gut feel.”Sarath Peiris for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Will Scott Moe change his tune?
Premier Scott Moe continues to stand behind his ‘wait and see’ response to the Omicron wave. He claims that he is watching other jurisdictions for any indication that he should reinstate measures such as gathering limits. Yet, hospitalizations continue to rise and Saskatchewan remains the only province in Canada to forgo gathering limits of any kind.
“Omicron is spreading across Canada and around the world, whether there are lockdown policies in place or not, so we are not going to impose new restrictions and lockdowns that cause significant harm for no clear benefit,”Premier Scott Moe
For days, weeks even, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Saqib Shahab has been warning that further measures must be taken. This includes limiting gathering size, reducing numbers of personal contacts, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated. Mostly, however, Dr Shahab has been screaming into the void as Premier Scott Moe disregards his advice.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the zero deaths error is that Premier Scott Moe seemed content to allow the people of Saskatchewan to believe that they were immune to the rising hospitalizations and death tolls that are experienced in other provinces. Given false hope, many residents of Saskatchewan have followed Moe’s lead and disregarded the warnings of Dr Shahab and other medical experts. The result is that more people are sick from COVID19 than ever before.