‘Let the kids play’: NDP urges provincial government to support children, parents in reopening plan

As children remain at home while playgrounds and recreational activities are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saskatchewan NDP is calling for a reopening plan that safely relaxes restrictions for families.

During a Thursday morning web conference with reporters, NDP leader Ryan Meili said kids and caregivers have been neglected by the Saskatchewan Party’s Reopen Saskatchewan Plan. The reopening of indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities is marked in phase four, which the start date has not yet been determined by the government.

Meili said a comprehensive plan is needed for youth so they are not limited and are able to enjoy activities outside of their homes.

“So far the reopening plan has really been silent on the question of all these little people who have been losing the end of the year at school, losing access to favourite activities and playgrounds,” stated Meili.

The NDP is suggesting a provincial plan that ensures:

  • Safe and affordable access to childcare for everyone returning to work;
  • Access to key infrastructure like libraries and playgrounds;
  • Clear guidelines for the reintroduction of children’s recreation programs and services like sports, art, dance, and music; and
  • Extending the SaskTel data overage at least through the end of June so kids can complete their school year without financial penalty.

Meili invited two Regina mothers to speak about concerns from their point of view at home. Heather Woolhouse wrote a letter to Premier Scott Moe and to Regina city council about the issues surrounding limited access for children’s activities in the province.

She said she just wants to know when she can tell her children they will be able to get out of the house and participate in activities again.

“We’ve made use of so many online resources that the public library has put out and the Saskatchewan Science Centre has put out, and they are all really great. But my kids want real things to do now,” admitted Woolhouse.

“They are still young enough; my kids are four and seven [years old]. So they still need a hands-on, tactile ability.”

Krista Broda, a mother of two, wrote an opinion piece on CBC Saskatchewan last week urging the government to include more services and opportunities for children in phase three of the provincial reopen plan.

Broda said it seems like everything else is moving forward except things that impact and benefit children.

“It’s really hard for me to watch restaurants and gyms open up and my kid can’t sit on a swing,” she noted. “I don’t want to rush the province. I do trust the chief medical health officer knows exactly what needs to be done. But I do feel like children have been forgotten.”

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