Saskatoon mayor, administration cautious about straying from provincial COVID-19 response

As Saskatoon’s COVID-19 numbers rise, the city’s mayor says there are no plans to deviate from the plan set by the province.

As of Monday, 859 active cases of COVID-19 were known in Saskatoon, putting the city well ahead of any other region in the province.

At a meeting of the city committee on Monday, Graf. Bev Dubois said residents of their parish were concerned about the increase in cases and asked if the city should implement its own rules to slow the spread.

“To be honest, people are very scared,” said Dubois.

“Every day I get a call or an e-mail and am asked: ‘What more can the city do about the pandemic? Can we override what the province says or does? ‘”

Mayor Charlie Clark was reluctant to deviate from the official provincial plan.

“I know there are some in the public who want the city to lock down or the city to implement these measures, and as we have learned and seen in the past, this is not the role that the city plays,” said Clark.

“When Regina tried to take action beyond the province at the beginning of this pandemic, it ended pretty quickly.”

City Manager Jeff Jorgenson agreed, saying the city lacks medical staff and does not have the necessary expertise to make these calls.

“From both a legal and a professional perspective, the province is really in the best position to make decisions regarding the pandemic,” he said.

“You have more legislative powers and more appropriate legislative powers.”

Clark said COVID-19 continues to be a major focus for himself and for city workers.

“A priority for me is to really work with leaders across our community, as well as with the provincial and federal governments,” he said.

“We’re the largest city in Saskatchewan, we’re a hub where lots of people come and go to get services, and we’re also the city with the most cases.”

Clark said he continues to meet with provincial officials for updated information.

The council unanimously voted in favor of a report that clearly outlines the specific roles of the city and province in introducing new measures.

The city manager said many workers continue to work from home when possible.

Although there have been cases of COVID-19 among city employees, Jorgenson said all cases were due to community transmission and not to the workplace.

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