Meili says voters should have to wear masks at polls

"Yes I think it should be required," Sask. NDP Leader Ryan Meili says of masks at voting stations.

Sask. Party says it is confident in safety measures by Elections Sask.

Ryan Meili speaks in Saskatoon Oct. 22 during a campaign event held in a supporter's backyard. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili says voters heading to the polls for the provincial election should be required to wear masks.

Meili made the statement Thursday in Saskatoon, where the number of active cases has tripled in less than two weeks and five outbreaks have been declared during the same period. Elections Saskatchewan said Wednesday it was having a tough time recruiting poll workers in the city.

"Yes I think it should be required. As people go to vote, they should put on masks," Meili said.

Elections Saskatchewan announced last week that only elections workers and candidate scrutineers are required to wear masks, though it strongly encouraged voters to do so as well. CEO Michael Boda said Elections Saskatchewan had not consulted with Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, specifically on the question of requiring masks.

Meili hastened to add Thursday that he believes voting is safe, based on his own recent experience at an advanced polling station.

"I understand why people would be concerned. I've voted and I want to tell people who are going to vote, I saw people wearing masks. That's what everyone was doing. People were really responsible about physical distancing."

Masks will be available to those who didn't bring them, Meili added. 

What the Sask. Party says

A spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Party campaign team said the party remains confident in the measures and guidelines put in place by Elections Saskatchewan in consultation with Shahab.

"These measures include recommended mask usage at polling locations, the provision of masks to voters, physical distancing, hand sanitization and the use of barriers for the added protection of elections workers," spokesperson Jim Billington said. 

Billington said Elections Saskatchewan is an independent office "not operated or directed by" the Saskatchewan government and that it would be "entirely inappropriate" for the government or any party to try to direct Elections Saskatchewan. 

A bypartisan committee provided input to Elections Saskatchewan before the Oct. 26 election was called, but that input ceased once the writ was dropped in late September. 


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa

Guy Quenneville is a reporter at CBC Ottawa. He can be reached at