REGINA - Today, the NDP Official Opposition released two internal memos written by Minister of Education Dustin Duncan showcasing the extent to which the Minister interfered with local municipal health decisions. These memos contradict the public statements made by the Minister and caused immense confusion for school boards trying to work with their local medical health officers to ensure the health and safety of their students and staff.
“These memos show just how far the Minister has been willing to go to interfere in local health decision-making. Common sense and health policy aren’t dictating these decisions, it’s the Minister’s own politics,” said Carla Beck, Opposition Critic for Education. “It is unfathomable that this Minister would direct school boards to ignore local medical health orders, even in cases where schools in active COVID outbreak are hosting an extracurricular event.”
On November 18, a memo was sent by the Minister to clarify the Sask. Party government’s position on unvaccinated students participating in extracurricular activities. In the memo, the Minister states that if extracurricular activities were being hosted in third-party facilities that require proof of vaccination or negative test, they should work with those third-party facilities to remove those requirements for the event or move the activity. An additional memo was sent to school division board chairs on November 30, directing them not to exclude any students from extracurricular activities, regardless of if a school is on current outbreak status or the student is coming from a school in outbreak. This new directive also contradicts the Minister’s own statements hours earlier on CBC radio, and also contradicts his original stance on school board autonomy when it comes to developing their own COVID measures through consultations with their local medical health officers back in August.
“Simply put, this is a government that isn’t focused on the health and safety of the people of Saskatchewan. They are entirely focused on their own internal politics and appeasing the fringes of their base. At a time when the people of Saskatchewan are demanding leadership from their government, the Sask. Party is playing politics,” said Beck. “What message does this send to the general public regarding Dr. Shahab’s orders and recommendations when this Minister is going rogue and telling school boards to ignore medical advice and orders?”
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