Premier Scott Moe Delivers Provincial Address
Tonight, I want to talk to you about where we've been, where we are, and where we are going.
As we fight the spread of COVID-19.
I want to begin tonight by saying thank you.
Thank you for following all of the guidelines and restrictions that have been put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The last few weeks have been difficult for everyone.
This is not how things are supposed to be.
People are meant to be together.
It’s against our very nature to stay apart.
But by doing so, we protected ourselves, our families, our neighbours and our province.
By doing so, we protected our health care workers and we ensured our health system was not overwhelmed.
Tonight I can tell you - without any doubt, it is working.
Saskatchewan has reduced the spread of COVID-19.
We have flattened the curve.
And that’s thanks to you.
Each and every one of you.
Over the past few weeks, we all had to quickly learn a strange new way to live.
And we did.
We learned to stay physically away from one another, while at the same time staying connected and supporting one another through this difficult time.
We figured out ways to work from home if we could.
Employees at grocery stores and pharmacies and other businesses that stayed open came up with new ways of doing things to protect themselves and their customers, while still providing an essential service to Saskatchewan people.
We learned about “physical distancing” and “self-isolation” and “flattening the curve.”
We learned how to pull together by staying apart.
And we did all these things as if lives depended on it.
Because they do.
We have seen what happened in other parts of the world where the virus spread quickly, and the health system became overwhelmed.
Thankfully, that has not happened here, and that’s because of you.
So thank you.
Thank you to everyone working in our health care system.
Doctors, nurses, technologists and pharmacists. Cooks, cleaners and maintenance workers. Students, volunteers and retirees who have returned to the workforce.
Thanks to all the people providing the other essential services that we need.
I’m thinking about the folks working in grocery stores and in our food distribution system.
The workers delivering food and parcels to our homes, the truckers who keep our supplies moving.
The utility workers who ensure we have power, heat and clean water.
The farmers and ranchers.
And our first responders: the police, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics.
Thanks to the parents whose kids have been at home these past few weeks instead of at school.
And thanks to the teachers for finding ways to ensure our kids can still be students.
Thank you as well to everyone who isn’t working right now.
Everyone who is doing the right thing by staying home to reduce the spread.
Thank you to the businesses that have been required to close temporarily or severely cut back your operations.
And to all the employees of those businesses who are now staying home because you have lost your job, I know this is an extremely difficult time for you and your families.
But tonight, because of the tremendous effort of Saskatchewan people and the success we have had in reducing the spread, I think we can begin to provide a bit of optimism.
And a roadmap for businesses and services to gradually reopen, and allow for more people to return to work.
Again, the only reason we can begin to have this conversation tonight is because together, we have reduced the spread and flattened the curve.
By any objective measure, what we are doing in Saskatchewan is working.
What YOU are doing is working.
As of today, Saskatchewan has had 326 cases of COVID-19.
Four people have unfortunately passed, and we mourn with their families and friends.
But 261 people have now recovered from the virus.
And today, there are just 61 active cases in Saskatchewan, and just five people in hospital.
To put those numbers in context, on a per capita basis, the number of COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan is about 70 per cent below the Canadian average, and the number of serious outcomes - hospitalizations and deaths - is more than 90 per cent below the national average.
At the same time, the COVID-19 testing rate in Saskatchewan is more than 40 per cent higher than the national average.
We’re doing well.
So, can we continue to reduce the spread and keep those case numbers low...
While at the same time gradually allowing more businesses to reopen and more Saskatchewan people to return to work?
I believe we can, but only if we proceed with caution. Great caution.
Our government takes this decision extremely seriously.
We know there are risks on both sides.
If we move too quickly, we risk increasing the spread of COVID-19.
If we move too slowly, we risk permanent damage to the livelihoods of thousands of Saskatchewan people.
Businesses that never reopen, and jobs that never come back.
So we have to find the right path.
Tomorrow, we will unveil a plan to gradually and methodically re-open businesses and public services that have been closed because of the pandemic.
It is a plan developed in close consultation with Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Doctor Shahab.
It is a plan that will be carried out in five phases, and as we proceed with each phase, we will carefully monitor COVID-19 case numbers and adjust the plan as required.
As businesses are allowed to reopen and employees return to work, they will have to follow stringent physical distancing and cleaning procedures, just like the grocery stores and other businesses that are open and operating safely today.
As we cautiously proceed through this re-opening process, some of the other restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
We know that, in Saskatchewan and elsewhere, the largest and most dangerous outbreaks have been related to travel, to large gatherings, and to seniors care homes.
So all of those restrictions will remain in place.
We also know that aggressive testing and contact tracing are key to controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Canada has one of the highest testing rates in the world, and Saskatchewan has one of the highest testing rates in Canada.
That will continue.
In fact, we are looking at ways to increase testing and contact tracing in the days ahead.
Ongoing restrictions in high risk areas, and aggressive testing and contact tracing.
This is how we will continue to keep our case numbers low and manageable as we proceed with caution through the re-opening process.
Tomorrow, Dr. Shahab and I will outline which businesses and services will be included in each phase of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, and some dates in May when the first couple of phases will begin.
Again, let me be clear - this will be a gradual, methodical, and cautious process.
It’s not like flipping on a light switch.
If anything, it’s more like a dimmer switch that’s been turned down… over the next several weeks, we will gradually be turning up the light once again on Saskatchewan’s economy.
It’s been said that adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals it.
I believe that.
Here are some examples that reveal everything you need to know about Saskatchewan’s character.
Alex Pelletier of Regina decided to make 200 brown bag lunches in his apartment at Easter. He figured with the pandemic, there were some people going hungry. So Alex hit the streets and gave those 200 lunches to people in need.
In Prince Albert, 79-year-old Eleanor Land decided to fire up her four bread makers. Eleanor’s been baking 50 to 60 loaves of bread a week for the Community Cares Kitchen. The kitchen has been providing meals for families impacted by COVID-19.
In Moose Jaw, Chris Merkel decided to post this on Facebook: “I will be offering my help to anyone in the city for running errands. “I will gladly go get your groceries or anything you need. I’m a single person with no kids in my 30’s. “I feel that I should be putting myself in harm’s way before anyone else.”
Three stories out of thousands.
Adversity does reveal character.
And in this crisis, your character has been revealed as resilient, determined, courageous, and compassionate.
Caring and strong.
And I’ve never been so proud to call this province home.