COVID-19 response, economic recovery debated by Sask. party leaders
REGINA -- The leaders of Saskatchewan’s two main political parties faced off on a variety of topics at the provincial election 2020 leaders’ debate on Wednesday evening. COVID-19 and the parties’ plans to revive the provincial economy kicked off the events discussions.
Sask Party leader Scott Moe began the debate by listing a number of provincial statistics related to the pandemic. Moe said that in Saskatchewan, case numbers are 62 per cent lower than the national average, active cases currently sit 60 per cent below the national average and fatalities are 92 per cent lower than the national average.
“We have safely reopened our economy, our community, we have safety reopened our schools here in the province,” Moe said. “But where we have challenges is people not following the public health advice that is in place. Thankfully the vast majority of Saskatchewan people are, and that’s showing up in our numbers.”
NDP leader Ryan Meili said that people across Saskatchewan have stepped up to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“They deserve a government who will step up for them as well,” Meili said. “And that means with clear guidance on when to use masks, how to protect ourselves.”
When asked if his government would introduce an indoor mandatory mask policy, Moe said he stands by the message his government presented on masking throughout the pandemic.
“When you are able to create that physical distance, like we are here this evening, a mask is not necessary,” Moe said. “When you are not able to have that physical distance you should have a mask with you, I carry one with me all of the time.”
Moe said his government has been clear about the masking expectations in the province, he believes it has been effective, and will continue this way is his party is re-election on Oct. 26.
Meili rebutted by referencing “mixed messages” from the government regarding its policy on masks.
“One of the things I was really disappointed about was the failure to speak out about the folks who are protesting, and the anti mask movement and really make it clear that’s not helpful,” Meili said.
Meili pointed out that Moe’s Minister of Finance, Donna Harpauer, has stated that the road to economic recovery is through austerity. He said the struggling members of Saskatchewan’s communities are not looking for cuts, but for investment.
Moe referenced a grant his government made to the small business community, as well as supports for a buy-local initiative to support local business.
“There are not going to be cuts outside of cuts to the power rates, outside of cuts to people’s taxes,” Moe said.
Meili said his government would invest quickly in jobs, raising wages, and working to make life more affordable for the people and families struggling.
Moe rebutted by explaining part of his plan for economic recovery; a $2 billion “booster shot” to an existing $7.5 billion plan to build schools, hospitals and roads in the province.
He said his province would balance the budget by 2024.
The Saskatchewan general election will take place on Oct. 26. For more election coverage from CTV News Regina, visit us here.