Sask. premier calls for end to 'stigmatizing the unvaccinated'
Saskatchewan’s premier is calling for an end to the stigmatization of those who remain unvaccinated in the province.
The call follows comments made Monday by NDP Opposition leader Ryan Meili about a phone call between Premier Scott Moe and an organization that opposes the province’s COVID-19 health measures.
“We are going to do everything that we can to ensure that we are not, as Dr. Shahab said, stigmatizing the unvaccinated,” Moe said. “These are our family, these are our friends and we should not be labeling them with terms like ‘right-wing wacko’.”
Moe took a call from the leader of Unified Grassroots -- which describes itself as “an action-oriented group that aims to create an open and compassionate space for people to gather and support each other” on its website.
The organization was involved in a court challenge earlier this year that contested the province’s proof of vaccination policy, which failed.
On Monday, Meili called the group, “radical extremists”, while pointing out that patients and healthcare workers coming into the house have been routinely denied an audience with the premier.
Meili doubled down on his previous comments during Tuesday’s Question Period.
“He’s ready to hop on the phone for somebody who puts rants on YouTube. Ready to hop on the phone for the latest anti-vax group. Why is this government willing to listen to those anti-vax groups and not to the medical experts who are working so hard to keep us safe.”
The president of Unified Grassroots told CTV News that she was disappointed by Meili’s remarks.
“It was very defaming, to say the least,” Nadine Ness said. “It didn’t address at all who we are.”
She said in her phone call with the premier, they discussed the need to return to a place where individuals and groups can disagree freely, which she feels has not been happening.
Ness said the 14,000 member Facebook group is not opposed to vaccines and that its members include a large number of vaccinated people. Their issues is vaccine mandates.
“It creates a problem where you divide society in two groups, where you spread the message that one group is better than the other or one group deserves better than the other and that’s something that’s going to damage the population not just now. It’s going to damage them for generations to come,” she said.
The premier said his call provided an opportunity to explain the government’s position.
“I talked about the challenges we have with COVID and some of the most effective tools that we have to keep people out of hospital and the first among those is obviously vaccines,” Moe said.