Saskatchewan’s premier isn’t ruling out an early election call despite the World Health Organization declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
Scott Moe says health officials will be able to handle the situation if and when there is a case of COVID-19 in the province.
“The fact of the matter is our four years is up now,” Moe said after a bear-pit session at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities convention on Wednesday.
“I would like a mandate from the people of the province. I would like that mandate sooner rather than later.”
Moe said voters should trust that the government can weather any economic impacts.
“I am not going to walk away from serving the people of this province,” Moe said.
“I am going to be here to serve them, most assuredly, and the people of this province can have every confidence – every confidence – that health-care officials do have all of the supports necessary.”
The premier has faced criticism from the Opposition NDP over the possibility of moving the fixed fall election to the spring, given the spread of the virus.
NDP Leader Ryan Meili said Wednesday that going to the polls in the spring would be “recklessly stupid.” He has said he believes Moe will call an election next week after the new budget is tabled.
The Ministry of Justice said Wednesday that the Saskatoon Correctional Centre had put its infection protocol in place after an inmate said he had come into contact with someone infected with the virus in Alberta or British Columbia.
“The offender and the other offenders he was in contact with have been placed in quarantine while we gather more information. Some staff have self-isolated as well as precautionary measure,” said a statement.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, said as of Wednesday, 204 people had been tested for COVID-19. All were negative except for two results that are still pending.
Shahab said it’s impossible to say what the virus situation will be like in October when the election is slated to be held.
He said officials are doing risk assessments for large events but urged people to stay home if they feel sick.