Saskatchewan’s NDP Opposition leader wants the government to consider a provincewide amnesty on fines related to violations of COVID-19 health orders.
Ryan Meili says people are getting inconsistent messages from Premier Scott Moe and his Saskatchewan Party government.
Mr. Moe has said public-health officials are to educate people first about limits on gatherings, then look to fines if that advice is disregarded.
Four cases of COVID-19 have been linked to about 60 people who attended two large family gatherings earlier this month that resulted in a declared community outbreak in Saskatoon.
The health authority hasn’t disclosed details, but says officials decided to educate those involved and no one has been fined.
Mr. Meili says that sends a strange message, considering that at the end of March, RCMP in northern Saskatchewan charged 11 people inside an SUV with violating the order that prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.
“The messaging on what needs to happen and what people need to do needs to be clear and consistent, and so does the enforcement,” Mr. Meili said Friday in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“Why not clear the deck to date? And then going forward have a real clear guideline of who would be charged and why.”
Mr. Meili later deleted a tweet about his position after learning more about the case involving the people in the SUV.
At the time, police announced those inside the vehicle were also facing other charges, including weapons offences and assault of a peace officer. Police said violating the health order exposed officers and the public to the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The charge under the province’s public-health act has since been withdrawn and stayed against two of the 11 people in the SUV.
In another interview, Mr. Meili said an amnesty is still worthwhile, although there may be cases such as the one involving the SUV where it’s not appropriate.
He said he has also heard about a resident from the northern community of Beauval, about 400 kilometres north of Saskatoon, who was fined for going to get groceries despite checkpoints restricting travel in the area.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.