REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Health Critic Vicki Mowat called on Premier Scott Moe to answer for former Health Minister Jim Reiter lying about the government’s plan to fight COVID-19.
“We asked Jim Reiter about his plan to address COVID-19 on March 10 of last year,” said Mowat. “He said that he had a plan and accused us of fear mongering. He released his plan the next day - one year ago today - to show how prepared he was. But the documents we’ve received show that was all a lie.”
Documents obtained by the Official Opposition through Freedom of Information requests asking for drafts and correspondence related to the Saskatchewan COVID-19 Preparedness Plan show that the first draft of the COVID-19 response plan wasn’t distributed until 7:43 PM on March 10 – more than 5 hours after Jim Reiter said three times in Question Period that there was a plan in place.
The Ministry of Health’s response to the freedom of information request also includes an email sent by a communications staffer who used to work in the premier’s office indicating “I’m totally pulling these out of the air” while responding to an inquiry from a reporter about what was in the non-existent COVID-19 plan.
“On the same day that Jim Reiter was accusing us of fear mongering and Donna Harpauer was calling the opposition ‘Dr. Doom and his whole caucus of gloom,’ spin doctors in the government were scrambling to figure out how to respond to questions about a plan that didn’t exist,” said Mowat. “It’s crystal clear that the Sask. Party was gearing up for a snap spring election instead of planning for a pandemic, which has left us with the worst COVID-19 rates in the country and more than 400 Saskatchewan people dead so far. We’re asking for answers from this government.”
By March 10, 2020, COVID-19 cases had already been identified in Alberta and British Columbia, Canadian travelers from China had already been quarantined at a Canadian Air Force base, and Premier Moe had been forced to cancel a planned trip to the United States while continuing to muse about calling a snap spring election.