Car rally and COVID promises: Party leaders make pitches as Saskatchewan vote nears

The two main party leaders in Saskatchewan made big promises Thursday with just three days to go before the provincial election on Monday.

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe outlined his vision for a strong province at a car rally north of Regina.

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"Who do you trust to lead Saskatchewan's economic recovery?" he asked. "Do you trust the Saskatchewan Party who is running on our record or do you trust the NDP who is running away from its record?

"Our record is one of growth, more people, more jobs and much more opportunity," Moe said as supporters honked their horns.

Earlier in the day, NDP Leader Ryan Meili was in Saskatoon where he criticized Moe's record on COVID-19 and promised $50 million to support the pandemic response if he becomes premier.

"An NDP government would get to work on the COVID recovery immediately," said Meili. "We won't do what we saw with Scott Moe when he took the summer off instead of coming up with a decent return-to-school plan.

"We'll get to work right away: Day 1."

Meili said the cash would provide comfort to families who are worried about how to protect one another as case numbers rise in Saskatchewan.

Health officials reported 60 new cases on Thursday for a total of 509 active infections — the highest number since the pandemic began. Twenty-one people were in hospital, three of them in intensive care.

Meili said $20 million of the $50 million would go toward hiring more nurses, care aides and cleaning staff in health facilities and another $20 million would be used to reduce class sizes in schools. The remaining $10 million would go to community-based organizations working with the most vulnerable.

Moe defended his record on COVID-19 at the rally.

"During our response to COVID, more Saskatchewan people were able to keep working safely than any other province in Canada," he said. "We should be proud of this."

He said he can be trusted to lead Saskatchewan as it works to rebuild its economy.

"The Saskatchewan Party, our party, has a plan for a strong recovery. The NDP does not."

Elections Saskatchewan said more than 43,000 people cast ballots Wednesday — the most in a single day of advance voting in a provincial election. The total number of people who had already voted was nearly 85,000.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2020.

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