The province’s health minister was on the hot seat today as he answered questions about COVID-19.
Paul Merriman says that the decision on vaccination shots should be made by the individual themselves and not the government. “I don’t know why it has to be a government mandate, the individual should make the choice whether they want to be vaccinated or not, and if it’s government mandated, it changes the factor of government telling you what to do versus you making a choice. If people don’t want to get vaccinated that’s there choice.”
Merriman believes public health orders shouldn’t be in place at this time, since the option of vaccinations are available. “Public health orders are a stop gap.” Merriman added “I can’t emphasize this enough, we have over 500,000 vaccines in the province right now, there’s absolutely no reason that somebody couldn’t get vaccinated right now. If we decided to put in public health orders that’s going to take two or three weeks to be able to have a full impact, by that time people could be vaccinated.”
The Health Minister said that the province will not be offering incentives for people to get vaccinated, Merriman said when looking at other provinces who offered incentives, he didn’t see an increase of amount of people getting their vaccination dose.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are one of two CFL teams who haven’t made proof of vaccination mandatory when entering their home stadium. Merriman says the provincial government have been consulting with the Roughriders but added that the decision to implement the proof of vaccination will come from the football club and not from the provincial government.
The leader of the opposition party, Ryan Meili responded to Merriman’s comments and said the mandate should be put in place but the provincial government. “People should get vaccinated, but just saying that isn’t good enough. ” He added the provincial government should be reaching out to people who haven’t gotten their vaccination shot, answering any possible questions that anyone may have about the vaccine that they might have.
While Merriman said incentives are not something Saskatchewan will be pursuing at this time, the leader of the provincial NDP party believes that incentives would help vaccines numbers. He pointed out a lottery as a possible solution.
When asked about the idea about mandatory proof of vaccination for events like Saskatchewan Roughrider games, Meili once again said the decision should be made from the provincial government. “30,000 people at a time in close quarters, this is a place where you should have people having two shots, just as you should in concerts or anywhere people are gathering in large numbers.
In places like Regina and Saskatoon, Meili says that the idea of reintroducing mask use should be explored.
On Wednesday, there were 216 new cases of COVID-19 being reported, the highest single-day total since May 14th.