REGINA - Official Opposition Health Critic Vicki Mowat stood in the Legislature today to join the call by physicians at the Saskatoon Community Clinic (SCC) who are raising the alarm at the treatment of front-line health care workers not employed by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) in the government’s vaccine plan.
“Front-line health care workers have stepped up to protect all of us, while the Sask. Party government’s mixed messages and confused vaccine roll-out have failed to prevent the severe second and now third waves of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan,” said Mowat. “Vaccinating essential front-line health care workers is vital to containing the spread of the more contagious and deadly variants that are now spreading throughout the province. But the protections afforded to health workers shouldn't depend on who cuts their cheques.”
In a letter dated April 13, the Executive Director and Board President of the SCC wrote the Minister of Health asking that he reconsider the decision “to exclude health care workers providing direct patient care to the citizens of Saskatchewan from receiving their COVID-19 vaccine when they clearly meet eligibility criteria set forth by the province.” They state:
“To be clear, the province has made the decision that a health care worker employed at SCC doing the same job as a SHA staff person, but working for an organization other than the Saskatchewan Health Authority does not deserve to be protected against COVID-19.”
In a follow-up letter dated April 14, physicians at the SCC wrote the Minister advocating for their colleagues:
“It has come to our attention that many of our co-workers and team members have been denied the opportunity to receive their vaccines (even though they meet the April 12th expanded Phase I criteria) because they are not employed by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. We are writing you today to let you know that this is not acceptable.”
Both letters reference the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) recommendations that the government has refused to follow, which does not prioritize SHA employees over those providing care for partner organizations like the SCC.
“Doctors, nurses and front-line health care workers across the province have been speaking up for months, and they are sick and tired of being ignored by this Premier and this Health Minister,” said Mowat. “The government must stop ignoring the people who are putting themselves on the front-line for all of us. Saskatchewan families deserve better than a government that is willing to give the variants a head-start against the vaccines.”