Sask. surprised feds with ‘unforeseen’ request for COVID-19 support after previously turning it down – CBC

Emails show request caught federal departments off guard

Feb 02, 2023

Public Safety Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces were caught off guard by a request for help from Saskatchewan during the height of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Documents obtained under freedom of information laws show employees in the federal departments were surprised when Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman sent a letter in October 2021 to then-federal health minister Patty Hajdu requesting help.

“Unforeseen [request for assistance] for [Saskatchewan] came into Ottawa through [Minister] Hajdu,” said an Oct. 18 email from Maj.-Gen. Paul Prevost, who runs the military centre called the Strategic Joint Staff.

“[Government of Canada], as us, are surprised by this,” said another email from Lt.-Col Dave Morency.

It was unexpected because Merriman had turned down an offer of federal support and, emails show, there was no indication a formal request would be on the horizon.

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