Protesters participated in a demonstration on Saskatchewan Legislature grounds on Thursday to represent the lives lost to COVID-19 in the province and call on the government to take more action.

The province’s death toll currently sits at 616 after one more resident’s death was reported on Thursday. The seven-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases is 364 or 30.2 per 100,000 population.

The protest was held to call on Premier Scott Moe and Health Minister Paul Merriman to “follow the science and implement evidence-based strategies to reduce the strain on our medical system and protect our children.”

We’re several minutes in to a pro-restrictions rally in front of the Sask Legislative Building in Regina. They are calling for the prov govt to bring back some restrictions as COVID-19 cases climb and hospitals are overwhelmed.

Some are here in support. Others are not.

— Moises Canales-Lavigne (@MoisesCanalesJr) September 9, 2021

Kathy Undseth is a retired registered nurse and Thursday’s rally is the first protest she’s ever participated in.

“I’m absolutely appalled and embarrassed to say I live in Saskatchewan,” Undseth said.

“I’m here today to show support to our health-care workers, all the health-care professionals and the support staff and everyone else who is trying to keep the lid on this.”

“People are dying who don’t need to be dying,” Undseth added.

The new grandmother to a premature baby says she is worried and hopes the government takes action by making masks mandatory indoors and introducing vaccine passports.

Protest to Protect co-organizer Donna Pasiechnik echoed those calls on Thursday at the same rally.

“We’d like to see more contact tracing, more testing, mandatory vaccines for health-care workers and teachers, and vaccine passports to protect businesses,” Pasiechnik said.

“We know from other provinces where they’ve implemented vaccine passports that people have tripped over themselves to get vaccinated so that they can continue to go to restaurants and bars and sporting events.”

Pasiechnik also had a stern message for government leadership on Thursday.

“You were elected to do a job to protect the health of Saskatchewan residents, do it. This abdication of responsibility is reckless. Pushing off the responsibility to school boards and municipalities and private businesses… do your job you were elected to do.”

At the last government COVID-19 press conference on Aug. 30, Moe said the government has no plans to reinstate widespread public health measures.

“That would be grossly unfair to the vast majority of Saskatchewan residents who have made the right decision and who have (gone) out and gotten themselves vaccinated,” said Moe.

Pasiechnik said “that makes no sense whatsoever.”

“We all did what were told. We stayed home. We wore masks. We got vaccinated. And now we’re being punished again for doing the right thing when you’ve got these anti-maskers out and about,” Pasiechnik said.

“We need the protection. We would like to see vaccine passports, for example, so we can all go out and start support businesses, again. That makes no sense. I don’t know where he’s coming from.”

An emailed statement from Moe’s press secretary on Wednesday said he and Merriman are engaging with the Saskatchewan Health Authority regarding the recent increase in patients in hospital with COVID-19 and “the ongoing capacity of the health care system.”

The statement added Moe would have more to say in the coming days.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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