LA RONGE – Today, the MLAs for Athabasca and Cumberland, Buckley Belanger and Doyle Vermette, launched a radio campaign to address vaccine hesitancy and boost COVID-19 vaccination rates in the North. While first dose vaccination rates are stalling across the province, Belanger and Vermette are particularly concerned about uptake in their regions.
“The Sask Party government has been missing-in-action in the North. They’ve just completely written us off,” said Belanger. “A lot of folks up here are extremely dependent on community. The way this virus works, we know that folks in the North are especially vulnerable. This government should have prioritized a strategy to get shots into arms in these communities, but they have clearly chosen otherwise.”
Low vaccination rates in Northern Saskatchewan have been raised as a concern. In the far North West, English River First Nation has declared a 48-hour lockdown after a spike in cases. Much of northern COVID-19 response and vaccination strategy has been implemented not by the province, but rather local Indigenous leadership, who were recognized in November for their efforts by Canada’s top doctor. This leadership has been continued, recently demonstrated by the drive-thru clinic run by the Lac La Ronge Indian Band.
“We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to get as many folks vaccinated as possible. That’s why we’re launching this campaign,” said Vermette. “For your own safety, for the safety of your family, for the safety of your community, if you haven’t already, please go get vaccinated.”
The radio announcements will run beginning Monday June 21 and continue over the next several weeks in English, Cree, and Dene. The raw audio files can be listened to at this link.