Saskatchewan, Manitoba take different approaches on Covid-19

November 16, 2020, 8:53 am


Governments have a lot of very difficult decisions to make as they weigh public health and economic health in determining their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan have shown two very different approaches to Covid-19 restrictions in recent days.

Manitoba’s approach
Manitoba’s provincial government imposed a very strong lockdown starting last Thursday that has some businesses feeling that they are being punished after doing everything right.

Small businesses argue that they have the cleaning protocols in place and they can limit the number of people in their stores very easily.

They make a good argument that one person shopping in a small store is at less risk of Covid-19 than if they have to order an item online and line up at the post office to receive it.

Manitoba may have gone too far with its restrictions, hurting small businesses that are the backbone of every small community.

Hopefully the government of Manitoba takes another look at its lockdown and eases up on the small businesses in small communities in areas that have very little Covid-19 transmission currently.

The government of Manitoba should show some faith in the people and businesses of the province. It should put its faith in them to keep doing the right thing, rather than forcing so many businesses to lock their doors.

Saskatchewan’s approach
Saskatchewan’s provincial government announced some changes to its Covid-19 restrictions Friday, including restricting bars from selling alcohol after 10 pm and requiring masks in every community of more than 5,000 people.

There had been pressure on the province to do more, and every provincial official I have talked to has said the government is working its hardest to try to avoid any lockdowns that would hurt the economy.

Saskatchewan’s approach shows the right balance between keeping people safe and keeping fragile small businesses operating.

Saskatchewan’s government is putting its faith in people to do the right thing and follow all the necessary Covid-19 precautions to avoid further lockdowns.

Reaction from SCC
A letter from the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce Friday thanked the government for its actions and called on Saskatchewan residents to do everything they can to stop the spread of Covid-19 and prevent the province from having to impose further restrictions.

“On behalf of the 34 undersigned associations, chambers of commerce, and economic development groups, as well as the tens of thousands of employers and employees we represent, we are jointly writing to express our strong support for the targeted approach the Government of Saskatchewan has taken to address rising case counts in localized ‘hotspots,’ including new mandatory mask requirements,” said an open letter from the Chamber of Commerce.

“While we acknowledge some businesses will be significantly affected by today’s announcement, returning to a widespread, large-scale lockdown would be catastrophic to Saskatchewan jobs, Saskatchewan families, and on the immediate survivability of Saskatchewan businesses—even with new and extensive government intervention. The health, societal, and economic harm would have lasting, irreversible impacts.

“We are calling on all Saskatchewan residents to follow the restrictions and guidelines set out by our public health experts. Do your part and be a good neighbour. We also support the proactive enforcement of these critical measures.

“Last but not least: As we enter the holiday season, we ask Saskatchewan residents to support local businesses wherever possible. Many of these businesses are barely hanging on, and every little bit counts. And above all else: Be kind to each other. We are all in this together.”

If Saskatchewan’s approach is going to work, it will take the co-operation of everyone. Let’s prove that the government’s faith in us is well founded. Let’s follow the guidance, flatten the curve and show that there is no need for another lockdown.