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'A wild time': Former Sask. NDP leader hopes book helps readers process COVID-19 pandemic

Saskatchewan's former opposition leader, who is also a family doctor, believes that people might find it useful — and perhaps even therapeutic — to look back on the worst periods of the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

Ryan Meili, who stepped down as NDP leader last year, has penned a new non-fiction book focused on COVID-19's impact on Saskatchewan, in the hopes of both offering a snapshot of history and sharing the lessons that might be learned.

“The book is a look at that period from March 2020, when everything changed, till about two years later, looking at what happened in Saskatchewan and across Canada with COVID-19,” he explained to CTV Morning Live on Tuesday.

“One of the initial reactions has been just, 'Oh, I don’t know if I want to read about that time right now, that was something I was hoping to leave behind,'" he said.

"Then as people get into the book, they say, 'I'd forgotten a lot of that,' and it actually helps them process a time that was difficult," Ryan Meili, the former NDP leader for Saskatchewan.

“What did we actually experience wave by wave, and what can we learn from that, because it was a wild time, and so much was challenging.”

Meili, who has since returned to full-time to the field of medicine after exiting politics, said there is no better time to start learning from the pandemic.

“The next time a crisis, whatever it looks like, whether it’s a new infection or a natural disaster, how do we respond as a society, how do we make sure we learn from what we’ve been through,” he said.

Meili said one of the things he hopes people learned is how important health is when there’s a massive health threat.

“It is so disruptive to everything,” he said. “Health is the most important thing, and the decisions that we make in politics, in the legislature, in our public conversations — we should be making those through the lens of 'how will we improve and protect people’s health the best we can?' ... That doesn’t mean that we always have to be wearing masks, or keeping distance. It’s about responding to the moment with the right response.”

Meili said he thinks there were points when Saskatchewan met the challenge of the pandemic and moments where the province fell short.

“We really lost the plot and a lot of people suffered as a result,” he said. “We’re the place that had the worst second, third, fourth, waves. We’re having to send people across the country to be in ICUs in Ontario. Things didn’t go well at times, there's other things we did really well.

"A Healthy Future: Lessons from the Frontline of a Crisis" is on shelves in Saskatoon and will be available in Regina soon.

For Meili, writing the book was helpful for him as well.

"Going back, looking at those two years really in detail, pulling out the stories, the stories of patients who are affected, people that lost loved ones, really getting into what this meant for people helped me to process that experience and made sure I learned what I needed to learn from it." Top Stories

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