It appears the Saskatchewan government has no plans to change its stance on the sale of alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic any time soon.
The Lac La Ronge Indian Band has joined a number of other organizations across the province in requesting the government impose some restrictions on alcohol sales and limit store hours during the pandemic.
The First Nation made the request via letter on Mar.31 and received a negative response from the government Apr. 15.
Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said the ready availability of alcohol during the pandemic is creating added problems.
“When people are not intoxicated, they’re a lot more careful going house to house and people are calling us, they’re calling the RCMP,” she said. “There was a post on Facebook from one of the medical doctors saying they were seeing so many people that were intoxicated in the ER (local hospital emergency room).”
Searson said in its response to the La Ronge band’s letter, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority wrote it wouldn’t be feasible to try and enforce limits on the amount of alcohol one individual can purchase at a given time because of the fact there are too many retail liquor outlets in the area to choose from.
The province has also said in the past there are not enough detox facilities available to handle the withdrawal systems of people with severe alcohol addictions if availability was reduced in any serious way.
Nevertheless, the LLRIB Chief said for the provincial government to make no effort whatsoever to limit the amount of alcohol for sale in the north during these challenging times is only making it more difficult for communities in the area.
“Well, it’s frustrating because it’s our community leaders that are saying, “there’s somebody coming over here, they’re knocking at the door and they’re intoxicated, what do I do?’ Or somebody will call and say, ‘There’s a big party happening next door and there’s a public health order.’”
The Prince Albert Grand Council, Meadow Lake Tribal Council and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations have all made similar requests to the provincial government.
(PHOTO: Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson. File photo.)