Action Alert: Please sign our petition, which takes just a few moments, but even more importantly, phone SHA and the MLAs involved.
We unfortunately have some terrible news to share with you.
Without warning or notice, on April 4, the Saskatchewan government abruptly removed the masking requirement in all Saskatchewan healthcare settings across the province. Medical settings house vulnerable people, like hospitals and Long Term Care homes.
Not only does in-hospital acquired COVID have a much higher mortality rate than the general public, but this move destroys equitable access to hospitals and other medical settings for immunocompromised and high-risk people. If there’s one place we shouldn’t drop masks while a pandemic is still clearly in effect, it’s hospitals.
This has nothing to do with science or the state of COVID-19, and everything to do with politics — the Saskatchewan government’s courtship of the anti-mask and anti-vax lobby for votes.
COVID is no less a threat than it was before, and this decision will result in extra lost lives and disability from Long COVID.
Sign our petition to demand the reinstatement of the mask requirement in medical facilities
If you do nothing else, please sign and share the petition.
When you sign it, the two ministers of Health, Paul Merriman and Everett Hindley, as well as Premier Scott Moe and opposition Health Critic Vicki Mowat, receive the letter. It is also CC’d to members of senior management of the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
We are also urgently requesting everyone flood the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) with calls expressing major concern over suddenly dropping mask requirements and to re-instate it. The strategy is to have such a large number of callers concerned about the actual health of visitors and patients that the SHA is required to escalate the concern to upper management.
We have ‘call scripts’ below if you are nervous about calling. These talking points also explain the reasons why in-hospital COVID transmission is a very big deal, if you are not certain.
We recommend also calling the MLAs who are clearly pushing the decision for political reasons, and their numbers are listed below. Please do this if you have time, but the focus this week is pushing back on the SHA who signed off on this decision.
Made the calls? Let us know!
Hit the button above to send us a quick email when you’ve done it. This lets us know how many people took part.
How to call SHA
To register concerns, call the number associated with your “former region.” This is a link to the live contact page on the SHA website, but we have reproduced the list of regional contacts here:
|Former Health Region||Location/Area||Contact Information|
|Five Hills||Moose Jaw||1-855-778-7708|
|Keewatin Yatthé||Buffalo Narrows||1-833-484-2577|
|Mamawetan Churchill River||La Ronge||1-833-484-2577|
|Prairie North||North Battleford||1-833-484-2577|
|Prince Albert Parkland||Prince Albert||1-833-484-2577|
|Regina Qu’Appelle||Regina||306-766-3232 / 1-866-411-7272|
|Saskatoon||Saskatoon||306-655-0250 / 1-866-655-5066|
What to say
There are so many things wrong with this decision that you can use many “jumping off points” to talk about why keeping the mask requirement is important to you as a resident of Saskatchewan. Scroll below the points for more general advice about calling.
- I am a high risk or immunocompromised person who needs the mask requirement to safely access my medical appointments and this is an issue of equity. (Or: my partner / friends / children / relatives are high risk)
- Removing the mask requirement will increase transmission of COVID in hospitals and other medical settings. Public health should be aimed at stopping transmission.
- Removing the mask requirement will increase COVID deaths and disability among patients and visitors acquiring COVID in hospitals and other settings.
- The pandemic is not over and COVID is still a serious problem. Wastewater levels are at some of their highest levels yet Admissions for COVID were most recently increasing more than 1 death a day happened in Saskatchewan in March, and this is likely an undercount, including someone under 20 years old. What evidence informed this decision given the data above?
- Hospital acquired infections of COVID were already a serious problem in the world’s hospitals. This move will increase COVID mortality and disability.
- Health care facilities should not make us sicker, not should we be faced with a decision to receive care or stay safe.
- Yes, we can continue to wear masks, but Two-way masking is twice as effective at preventing transmission.
Many medical interventions require the patient to remove a mask, without two-way masking, this results in NO ONE masking.
- Some disabled and vulnerable people (e.g. people with sensory disorders or intellectual disabilities, infants) can’t mask and rely on everyone else to do so.
Call the MLAs involved
It’s very important to also call the MLAs involved who pressed SHA to make this decision. They will be more responsive to a call than a petition. We recommend calling the legislature numbers if you are pressed for time because there is less runaround at the legislature line.
We think it is also worth relating our urgent concerns to Vicki Mowat, Opposition Health Critic for the Saskatchewan NDP. Hon. Mowat’s numbers: 306-787-2563 (Legislature) and 306-664-1090 (Constituency office).
If none of these MLAs are yours, please also call yours if you have time. You can find a directory here.
General calling advice
- Remain calm, assertive, and respectful – the person answering the phones is likely not to be the actual decision-maker and MANY have been misled to perceive COVID as no longer a risk. Not getting angry is important – they don’t tolerate verbal abuse.
- Don’t worry about being the most articulate person. General talking points are enough. Given what we know that masks save lives, it is as common sense to have masks in medical settings as it is to have fire exits in buildings.
- The representative on the other side may try to pass the buck., i.e. if you’re calling an MLA, they will try to say the SHA is leading the decision, and vice versa. Don’t let them – SHA has a clear role and responsibility in this process, as does the MLA.
- Don’t let them minimize. When they do, they are essentially saying “there will not be that much more death.” This is unacceptable when it is so easily avoidable.
- They may try to deflect to notions that some people including medical personnel don’t want to mask (which MLAs like Hindley have already said in public.) Or that “it was just time” because they have been lifted in other jurisdictions in the USA. Both of these answers are deflections and have nothing to do with the problem at hand: the long-range potential harm of COVID 19 to individuals and our economy, and the need to prevent transmission and reinfection.
- Another deflection might be that they’re not forbidding masks. But we know from experience in the general public that for many reasons, voluntary masking will eventually reduce to almost zero when no one is required to do it, often just because “nobody else is.” We also know that one-way masking is less effective and sometimes not possible for the most vulnerable.
Lastly, please write us with interesting replies from the SHA or the MLA representatives you speak to. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much for doing this – we need and appreciate everyone’s efforts to keep Saskatchewan safe from COVID, and ensure equity of access for immunocompromised and high-risk residents of our province.