As the provincial government is touting an 80 percent full vaccination rate in the province, the opposition NDP continues to push for stronger efforts when it comes to reinstating the province’s organ donor program.

The latest numbers show the seven-day average of cases down to 149 from its peak in September. The 70 percent decrease is a testament to the success of the proof of vaccination protocol introduced by the province, says Health Minister Paul Merriman. 

“Saskatchewan’s proof of vaccination policy has increased our COVID-19 vaccination rates the last few weeks, and I appreciate every person who made the choice to protect themselves and their loved ones against serious COVID-19 illness, particularly those under twelve who are unable to be vaccinated at this time,” Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said.  “COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe, effective, and the best tool available to us to drive transmission rates down in the province.”

The achievement has little bearing on those whose medical treatment has been delayed as a result of the pandemic, asserts the NDP. In a release on November 8, Opposition leader Ryan Meili called on the government to heed medical recommendations that would support reinstating organ transplants and the donor program. 

Meili introduced Jessica Bailey, a Saskatchewan resident who is currently suffering from stage five kidney failure. Jessica Bailey is one of many, says Meili, whose treatment is stranded owing to staff redeployments and suspension of key services.

“These are the stories this government ignored this summer. These are the very real consequences of playing politics during a pandemic,” said Meili in the release. “When this government talks about fairness, who are they talking about? They certainly aren’t talking about the thousands of Saskatchewan patients currently suffering without care due to Premier Moe and Minister Merriman’s decisions to ignore the science and medical recommendations.”

Specifically, Meili is pressing the government to  “listen to medical professionals who have stated that gathering restrictions would enable the health system to reduce the surgical waitlists more quickly.”

At a briefing on November 9, health officials stated that by the end of the month, it hopes to see redeployed health workers back to their original stations. If COVID case numbers continue to trend down, the hope is to see most surgical and therapy programs back on-stream, including a reinstatement of the organ donor program. The SHA acknowledged that as many as 27 opportunities for organ donations were missed due to the COVID-caused shutdown of the program.