NDP calls for “Circuit Breaker” of non-essential services to protect businesses and healthcare system

REGINA — New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili announced today that as a result of Premier Scott Moe’s ineffective actions to address the second wave of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, the NDP is calling for a three-week “circuit breaker” to keep our health care system from being overwhelmed and ensure that businesses and communities don’t face further hardship with longer shut downs.

“Scott Moe ran the election on the premise that the battle against COVID-19 had already been won. Since the election, his government has been too slow to react to the rapidly rising case numbers. The half-measures taken so far have been confusing and ineffective. ” said Meili. “If we want to protect our economy and our businesses, we need to get control of the pandemic. The choice is not between our health care or our economy - it is between a targeted action now or a much more severe lockdown later.”

Case numbers have increased rapidly in the past weeks while the Sask. Party government has moved from stating no new measures would be introduced, to introducing half-measures at the end of last week, to new measures announced yesterday along with a series of reviews that may lead to a lockdown. This is simply not enough. More action is needed. 

As part of the circuit breaker that New Democrats are calling for, the following measures should be taken in addition to those which have already been announced:

  • Close non-essential businesses and allow retail stores to maintain delivery and curbside service
  • Limit essential businesses to 25% capacity
  • Allow bars and restaurants to operate with take-out and delivery only
  • Close sports, fitness and recreation facilities
  • Close bingo halls and casinos
  • Keep schools open at Level 3 throughout the province, with support to reduce class sizes 
  • Bring back the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment Program and fix it to make it more accessible
  • Provide gap supports - similar to what is offered in Manitoba - for businesses that are not eligible for federal supports
  • Provide small business innovation grants for business owners that wish to upgrade to online retailing, delivery platforms and virtual service delivery
  • Bring back the moratorium on residential evictions and stop the clawbacks on housing and income assistance
  • Supports for businesses to keep their employees on the payroll and emergency supports for workers who still find themselves temporarily out of work

“Scott Moe’s lack of timely and decisive action has put the province at risk of an out-of-control second wave that will overwhelm the health system, cost lives and shutter businesses for good,” said Meili. “We need a consistent, coordinated and properly funded approach that will protect our health care system and our economy. It’s time for a real plan that puts people first.”