This week I joined my Saskatchewan colleagues in signing a letter to Premier Moe regarding the capacity limitations on places of worship.
Dear Premier Moe,
We are writing to you as Members of Parliament representing Saskatchewan on behalf of our constituents.
We would first like to thank you for the great work you have done to guide Saskatchewan through this pandemic. Your Government has been forced to make difficult decisions while attempting to balance the rights and safety of the people of Saskatchewan.
As we enter Phase Three of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, we wish to add our voices in support of the request by many leaders of faith communities to allow places of worship to hold services with up to one-half of their defined capacity, provided they follow the health guidelines laid out in the aforementioned plan.
For many people of faith, gathering together for worship is an intrinsic part of their beliefs. Throughout the pandemic, faith communities have made the tremendous sacrifices requested of them by public officials. This includes foregoing important religious customs and ceremonies, as Christians were unable to celebrate Easter services, Jewish communities could not attend Passover celebrations, and Muslims were not able to celebrate Eid in their customary manner.
We note that in the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, it states that "Re-opening gyms and fitness facilities promotes physical and mental wellness." Surely, the same is true of places of worship.
While allowing places of worship to hold services for one-third of their capacity to a maximum of 30 people is a good first step, it is concerning that places of worship have tighter restrictions than restaurants, bars, and gyms, despite there being no clear scientific reason for the discrepancy.
Faith communities have trusted that the authorities would protect their fundamental right to freedom of belief. It is incumbent upon public officials to honour that trust.
Therefore, to honour the trust of religious communities and to protect the fundamental right to freedom of belief, we humbly ask the Government of Saskatchewan to allow places of worship to hold services with up to one-half the maximum defined occupancy.
Members of the Saskatchewan Conservative Caucus
I hope this information has been of interest to you.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Kelly Block, MP