Politicians seldom get enough credit for making the tough decisions they don’t want to make or that they know people won’t like.
So perhaps Premier Scott Moe deserves more credit than he’s getting for his decision to prolong current restrictions to fight COVID-19 another month to March 19.
Those fed up with not seeing hockey in their communities or not being able to freely go to bars and casinos will not be happy that Moe decided not to lift any more restrictions.
In many cases, it’s unhappiness less based on personal selfishness than a legitimate fear of more job losses for friends, family and neighbours.
You may see the current measures as completely unnecessary because of low case counts in your area. Unless you are involved in the health system, it is pretty hard to see the impact of something that hits in pockets and is most deadly to the elderly.
However, those opposing lockdowns or further restrictions do not have the monopoly on fear and frustration in this debate.
Those watching Saskatchewan’s daily new case count hover in the triple digits as a more infectious strain of the virus hits this province and elsewhere also have reason to be scared and frustrated.
They view Moe’s unwillingness to impose stricter restrictions as political stubbornness stemming from his stated position at the end of the provincial election campaign last October that he would not lockdown the province again.
They argue that had Moe and his government simply imposed more stringent lockdowns earlier, we would not have had the prolonged restrictions we are currently enduring.
They further argued its worse that businesses like bars and restaurants have been allowed to stay open under circumstances where it’s exceedingly difficult for them to make any money because of limitation of the number of customers they can seat.
That Moe does badly wants to re-open Saskatchewan seems obvious.
So about the best he could do last week is put a brave face on things, urging Saskatchewan people to “stick it out”.
"We’re in the final stretch,” he told reporters in provincewide broadcasted press conference.
“There is some hope on the way.”
Moe again held out hope that “vaccines are going to ramp up in later March”. That should ease the decision to open up the economy.
“I think things are going to start happening quite quickly in the months ahead,” the Saskatchewan Premier said.
Whether Moe is making the exact right decision with what seems to be a middle-ground compromise is questionable. Certainly, it won’t make either extreme in this debate very happy.
But as such, it might be helpful to add a little perspective.
For starters, Saskatchewan people are not the only ones suffering through restrictions.
It can be argued we’ve had fewer restrictions that were imposed much later. Take mask mandatory mask wearing not imposed provincewide in Saskatchewan until Nov. 27. People in Winnipeg have been forced to wear masks since late September.
Manitoba and Alberta were already prohibiting all indoor gatherings and limiting outdoor gatherings long before we were here in Saskatchewan.
Similarly, Manitoba and Alberta closed bars and limited restaurants to takeout _ something we haven’t done here since the spring. And restrictions to store capacity in those provinces also came much more quickly in a more severe way.
One can argue based on total per capita cases and total deaths, we have fared better than our immediate neighbours.
At mid month, Saskatchewan had 354 deaths compared with 871 in Manitoba and 1,722 in Alberta.
Yet by further comparison, Nova Scotia (with 979,115 people) has had just 65 deaths and only 1,597 cases compared with Saskatchewan’s 26,829 total cases.
It’s food for thought for those quick to criticize Moe for either doing too much or too little.