Premier Moe asks Trudeau for health-care specialists to assist with province's COVID-19 response

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is asking the federal government for assistance in responding to COVID-19 challenges and made several requests to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a call on Wednesday.

The two leaders spoke Wednesday about how Ottawa can help Saskatchewan with its COVID response

There have been some tensions lately between Premier Scott Moe and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau but they were talking Wednesday. Moe requested pandemic support from Ottawa on a few fronts. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is asking the federal government for assistance in responding to COVID-19 challenges and made several requests to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a call on Wednesday.

Moe said Thursday he and the prime minister discussed four topics related to the pandemic.

The provincial government has not requested military help or asked for a wide range of health-care workers, but Moe said the province wants specific health specialists.

"We had a very specific ask around critical care nurses, respirologists — not a small number but specific and highly-trained individuals."

Moe said the Saskatchewan Health Authority is finalizing a list of needed specialists for the federal government.

Alberta is receiving support from the Canadian Armed Forces, Red Cross, and Newfoundland and Labrador are sending medical staff to help in Fort McMurray.

Moe said Saskatchewan has not requested support from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Saskatchewan has surpassed Alberta to lead the country in death rates due to COVID-19. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Vaccination effort

Moe said the leaders talked about how Saskatchewan could boost its vaccination rates, which are among the lowest in Canada along with Alberta's rates. 

"We need to do better here in this province. Fortunately [vaccination] has increased since our announcement on September 16," he said. 

Moe said they talked about getting more people vaccinated in places where the federal government has "predominant jurisdiction," such as northern and rural Indigenous communities.

Moe said strategies of door-to-door vaccination, which were taken on by the SHA and had positive results, could be replicated.

He said tackling low vaccination rates would require a partnership between Indigenous Services Canada, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and local community leaders.

Overall vaccination numbers have been on the rise in the province, with 38,337 more Saskatchewan residents becoming fully vaccinated between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30.

Rapid tests

The two leaders also discussed the provincial government's hope to secure more rapid tests and a request for the federal government to increase the number of approved testing products.

"The more and less invasive self-testing devices we can get out there to Saskatchewan people the better."

COVID treatments

Earlier this week, Moe had expressed interest in acquiring more monoclonal antibody COVID-19 treatments, and he made that request to Trudeau as well.

Three types of monoclonal antibody treatments have been approved for use in Canada: bamlanivimab, sotrovimab and the combination of casirivimab and imdevimab.

"We should be using [these treatments] in Canada like they have been in the United States for a number of months now," Moe said.

Moe said he also asked about other "early-intervention treatments," which could be available to people who may be at severe risk of complications if they contract COVID.

Trudeau promises to help

During the final days of last month's election campaign, Trudeau criticized the pandemic response of Moe and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said the federal government is prepared to help Saskatchewan tackle its fourth wave.

"The prime minister reiterated that the government of Canada remains ready to respond to any requests from the government of Saskatchewan and encouraged the premier to submit specific needs as they emerge," a statement from the PMO said.

On Sept. 1, the government reported 134 people with COVID-19 in hospital compared to 307 patients on Sept. 30. (CBC)

"He committed to working with the province to provide additional supports to keep people safe."

The communication between Moe and Trudeau came after some heated statements were lobbed between the two. 

During the election Trudeau criticized Saskatchewan's handling of the pandemic amid soaring COVID-19 case numbers.

Then, a little more than a week ago, Moe lambasted Trudeau for holding a snap election, calling it "pointless" and suggesting Ottawa should do more to boost vaccination rates in Saskatchewan.

The PMO didn't say who initiated the communication.

"The prime minister and premier re-committed to working together and to remain in touch," the statement said.


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