REGINA – Today Ryan Meili, Leader of the Official Opposition, joined COVID-19 survivor and front-line worker Matthew Cardinal to urge the government to take needed steps now to protect front-line workers from the third wave of COVID-19, and also to look forward to the supports that will be needed in mental health and other supports as we come out of the pandemic.
“Frontline workers like Matthew are the ones who are doing the heavy lifting during this pandemic, ensuring our economy and way of life continue through these very challenging times. They’re doing their job. It's time this Premier does his,” said Meili. “So many people have had their lives drastically affected by COVID-19. Saskatchewan people lost loved ones, suffered severe illness, had their schooling disrupted, lost their jobs or their businesses, or seen their work become so much harder. We have real work to do to bring the third wave under control and to ensure our vaccination strategy is the most effective it can be."
On March 15th, Matthew Cardinal, 34, first started exhibiting symptoms that rapidly deteriorated. By March 24th, he was having difficulty breathing and was rushed to hospital. It was in hospital, before Matthew was emitted into the ICU, that doctors informed him he should call his family before he would start to lose his brain function. It was at that moment that Matthew said his goodbyes to his friends and family, not knowing what awaited him in ICU. Matthew was put on a ventilator and put into an induced coma. Matthew’s story illustrates just how dangerous these new COVID variants can be, regardless of age.
“Frontline staff don’t have a choice. I took every precaution recommended but still got sick. That’s why we need a strategy that protects others in similar positions,” said Cardinal. “This experience was traumatic. Not just for me but for my friends and family. That’s the case for every single person who’s been through this. We need to talk about it and this government needs to take concrete actions to ensure the mental health of COVID patients and their families are addressed.”
As workers are faced with new variants of concern, which are more contagious and dangerous, increased numbers have found themselves hospitalized and even in ICU in life threatening conditions, despite taking every precaution possible within their work environments.
“I was gutted when I heard Matthew’s story. What he has gone through highlights why it’s so important we get this right,” said Meili. “It’s easy to get lost in the numbers and daily press releases but there are real people and real families behind those numbers. We owe it to our frontline workers to be there for them, like they’ve been there for us over the course of the last thirteen months. We also need to be looking past the current moment to a post-COVID plan to help people heal and rebuild the province.”
The Official Opposition is calling on the Sask. Party government to:
- Develop a plan to prioritize all frontline employees working in vulnerable, high volume workplaces to ensure we are protecting lives and are able to keep our businesses open
- Mobilize supports in mental health, health care, education, employment and training for recovering patients and their families to assist with the trauma caused by their experiences with COVID019.