“People are dying!”

That was a chant led by protesters outside the office of Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman on Wednesday afternoon.

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The parking lot was filled with concerned citizens, current and former healthcare professionals, and front-line workers calling for the province to do more to protect its people.

With the number of new cases at an all-time high and emergency rooms and ICUs filling up, protesters said they want public health measures restored.

“The only option they have is to act now and save lives, or act in a month or a few weeks and see more people killed and potentially lose more Saskatchewan Party voters,” said molecular biologist Dr. Kyle Anderson, who spoke at protest. .

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Organizers said the province has taken too much of a hands-off approach, including stopping conducting its own contact tracing.

“If you have been tested for COVID and you are positive and you go shopping today, there is no one to stop you and fine you,” said organizer Theresa MacKinnon, a retired public health nurse.

“This is bad.”

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Some former and current healthcare providers were among those protesting. They said their colleagues are frustrated by the lack of support.

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The Saskatchewan Nurses Union said many are overworked and overwhelmed as ICUs see an “extreme influx” of COVID-19 patients, many in the 20-40 age range.

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“They are being virtually drowned out by this influx of patients with this staff shortage,” said union president Tracy Zambory.

“There is such a fear of not being able to provide safe patient care that a catastrophic event is going to occur and there is going to be a significant number of consequences.”

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He said SUN would like the province to restore the required public health measures, as well as consider slowing down health services to focus staff on treating the growing number of new COVID-19 patients.

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One protester said the province needs to take control.

“It is not in the power of citizens to just do these things, because we know that personal responsibility just doesn’t work, but we know that masking regulation works,” said John Cameron.

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Opposition leader Ryan Meili said at the protest that he wants Saskatchewan to follow the example of other jurisdictions.

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“Bring masks, vaccine mandates, where appropriate, schools, hospitals, big public events and do your tests, do your tracking. These are key elements that we know what works, ”Meili said.

In an email, the province said it continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will continue to interact with the Saskatchewan Health Authority on the capacity of the system.

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