Prime Minister Blames Trudeau for Low Immunization Rates in the North and Aboriginals in Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe made no effort at a post-election press conference Tuesday in Regina, saying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has “a role to play” when it comes to the weak vaccination rate in northern and aboriginal communities.
“Our Far North and our Indigenous communities have an immunization rate of less than 50% – some as low as 23%,” Moe said.
“This is an area where we have some of the highest COVID transmissions in the province and it is an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction. “
Moe said the province has “worked hard, throughout this pandemic” to tackle low vaccination rates in northern and Indigenous communities.
The Premier noted that Saskatchewan allocates 14% of vaccines received in the early stages of the pandemic to Indigenous Services Canada.
He said the province has done everything possible to try to increase vaccination in communities under federal jurisdiction.
“We have partnered with Indigenous Services Canada to broadcast radio news in a number of Indigenous languages so people can understand why and where vaccines are available,” Moe said.
“We have gone so far beyond our provincial jurisdiction – in a number of northern communities – by providing door-to-door opportunities for immunizations.
“This is ultimately an area where we have seen the Premier raise the vaccination rate in Saskatchewan as being way too low. I would say the Prime Minister has a role to play in this regard. “
Trudeau “feels really bad” for being fully immunized in Saskatchewan.
Moe’s criticisms are in response to comments made by Trudeau while campaigning in British Columbia, where the premier said he felt “really bad” for fully vaccinated Saskatchewanians.
During a campaign stop in Richmond on September 14, Trudeau blamed Moe and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney for low vaccination rates in the Prairie provinces.
Trudeau said the imposition of vaccine requirements for government employees and vaccine passport warrants is causing hesitant people to roll up their sleeves – but neither Alberta nor Saskatchewan had yet implemented vaccine passports.
“Getting the vaccine is the way to get through this… This fourth wave is a wave mostly of people who have chosen not to be vaccinated. In Alberta, Saskatchewan, millions of people did the right thing and got vaccinated, ”Trudeau said.
“I feel bad, really bad, for the people of Alberta and Saskatchewan who came together to do the right thing.
Trudeau said that although Saskatchewan and Alberta have a proportionately lower number of people vaccinated than elsewhere in Canada, the majority of people in both provinces are vaccinated.
“Due to leadership that will not commit to keeping them safe the right way or even protecting the economy the right way, they face greater risks due to canceled surgeries,” said Trudeau.
“They face emergency public health restrictions that may need to be put in place. “
Trudeau has vowed to “foot the bill” for vaccine passports to make it easier for provinces to move these mandates forward.
“I don’t think any Albertan or Saskatchewanian watching this election would think that Erin O’Toole – who can’t even get his own candidates vaccinated – would do better for them than their current premiers.”
Saskatchewan reinstated a province-wide mask mandate on September 17 and announced mandatory vaccination policies effective October 1. A QR code is now available to residents as proof of vaccination.
Northern Saskatchewan’s health care system ‘on the brink’
But Moe said areas that are furthest behind in immunization are under federal jurisdiction.
Northern InterTribal Health Authority (NITHA) medical officer of health, Nnamdi Ndubuka, told the Prince Albert Daily Herald on September 8 that the health care system was “on the brink”.
Ndubuka said healthcare workers in northern Saskatchewan are overworked – some going on stress leave and others on sick leave.
“It tells you that we are on the brink,” Ndubuka said.
Ndubuka sent letters to First Nations governments encouraging vaccination mandates for staff and said he supported “all measures” to increase vaccination rates.
The province was meeting with northern and indigenous leaders to find solutions while the premier was busy campaigning in an unwanted election, Moe said.
He called on Trudeau to do more and work with the province to resolve the issue.
“(Trudeau) has many communities across this province that are under exclusive federal jurisdiction. The province is committed to doing what we can to increase our immunization rates in these areas, ”said Moe.
“We have been working with community leaders on how we can continue to increase these immunization rates – I would say with some success in some communities. This must continue to repeat itself in other communities.
Moe said that to achieve this goal, Saskatchewan needs the “full support of the federal government” to lower immunization rates in the Far North and in Indigenous communities.
“I suspect that’s the case across Canada,” Moe said.
“I suspect the federal government has been aware of this throughout this pandemic – throughout its decision to call an election as we Canadians still manage our way through this pandemic.”