NDP claims province lied to Legislature about COVID-19 planning

The NDP is accusing the Moe government of being ill-prepared for the outbreak of COVID-19 in the province.

The accusations come after NDP officials say they obtained documents proving former Minister of Health Jim Reiter lied about the province having a plan.

NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat says the incident took place exactly one year ago.

“On March 10th of last year, we asked Minister Reiter about his plan to address COVID-19. He said that he had a plan, and he accused us of fearmongering,” said Mowat. “He released his plan the next day, one year ago today, to show us just how prepared he was, but the documents we’ve received show that was lie.”

The documents, obtained through Freedom of Information request, show the first draft of the province’s COVID-19 response plan wasn’t distributed until 5 hours after Reiter promised a plan was in place.

Mowat says the government deceived the Assembly, and for that, they need to be held accountable.

“I think that it is disgraceful that we have a government that is saying one thing, and doing something else,” said Mowat. “We need accountability, we need answers from this government, and we need answers from the Premier on what his health minister was doing last year.”

Mowat says the lack of preparedness and having to scramble together a plan, led to Saskatchewan having the worst COVID-19 rates in the country and to the deaths of over 400 residents.

She adds it’s the government’s job to be prepared for things like pandemics.

“There’s an expectation that people have that government is here to protect us, they have responsibility when it comes to a global pandemic, to be planning for our safety,” said Mowat. “The implications are that they didn’t have a plan when they said they did, and they have to answer for why they’re saying one thing and doing something else. It’s not acceptable.”

In response to the accusations, the government highlights a quote where Minister Reiter said he was in talks with Dr. Shahab and other health officials days prior. Reiter had also said the province’s Emergency Preparedness Plan was being adapted to address COVID-19.

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