Saskatchewan becomes second Canadian province to call mid-pandemic election for October

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian province of Saskatchewan on Tuesday called an election for next month, the second to do so even as Canada’s novel coronavirus infections are increasing.

Saskatchewan, whose economy depends on farming and mining, has been ruled for 13 years by the right-leaning Saskatchewan Party, which is led by Premier Scott Moe.

The Saskatchewan Party holds 46 of the legislature’s 61 seats, followed by the New Democrats’ 13 seats. Two are vacant.

“What we have here is a situation where government parties felt they could capitalize on the support they got as a result of the way they managed COVID,” said University of Saskatchewan professor of political studies Joe Garcea.

He was referring to October election calls in both Saskatchewan and British Columbia, on Oct. 26 and Oct. 24 respectively. Voting will be in person and by mail.

Saskatchewan has among the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases in Canada. Nationally, there is a second wave of infections – as many cases as during the pandemic’s peak in April.

Moe said the election would be about the province’s economic recovery from pandemic restrictions. The spread of the virus has also hurt oil prices, further damaging Saskatchewan’s economy.

Moe said he plans to restore Saskatchewan’s finances to balance by 2024.

Saskatchewan New Democrat Leader Ryan Meili said if his party wins the election, it would halt spending cuts and invest in health care and schools.

(Reporting by Mahad Arale in Toronto and Rod Nickel; editing by Grant McCool)

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