Election Preparedness Update & Changes at ESK
Update on Election Preparedness
On March 4, I was in touch with you to advise that Elections Saskatchewan would be changing its planning schedule for the 29th general election in order to be ready for a possible spring election. By now, you all will have heard that Premier Moe has said that, given the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a spring election will not be called. I am writing today to advise that I subsequently instructed our Field Leadership Team (FLT) to pause most of its activities for the moment so that I can begin to transition our planning position to be ready for an October 26 election date.
Given that our leadership team in the field alone is constituted of more than 150 member and that we had been working to secure 61 returning offices and more than 1,100 polling locations in constituencies across the province for a potential election, I am sure that you will appreciate that it has taken, and will continue to take time to alter the course of our efforts. Further, this change has had to take place in an environment that now includes a COVID-19 outbreak.
I will provide a more fulsome update on our election readiness plans over the coming weeks as we gather information and adapt to the newly emerging situation. For now, I simply wanted you to know that our team is carefully planning for a new election readiness date, under very unique circumstances, so that we can effectively implement the coming general election and continue to serve your needs as stakeholders.
Changes Ahead to How Elections SK Operates
Based on advice offered publicly by Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Moe and continued conversations with Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, on Monday I instructed our management team at Elections SK’s Head Office to plan for our staff to work from home, effective immediately. I have also instructed our FLT, effective immediately, to conduct their election-related work by phone or email only and cease making visits to potential poll locations, personal care homes, etc. This is an important step that we can take as an employer to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Since 2012, we have given significant thought to building the technical infrastructure of Elections SK and, while we are still building components of that infrastructure, relative to other organizations, we do have the means in place to effectively telecommute. There will be “growing pains,” however, as our entire team has never moved in this direction and certainly not all at once. I’m going to ask for your patience in the days ahead.
Our team is committed to remain available to serve our registered political parties as needed. None of the contact information we have provided in the past will change and you should feel free to be in contact with me, Jennifer Colin, Deputy CEO, and Aaron Thompson, Director of Finance, moving forward.
I am always grateful for your willingness to work with us but, now more than ever, I will appreciate your cooperation during the coming days, weeks and months – I expect this will be a learning opportunity for all of us. I have prepared for elections in many circumstances internationally over the years, including in the midst of ongoing violence and following natural disasters. But the current scenario admittedly is not one that I have anticipated or that I had extensively planned for. Still, I remain confident that the team we have assembled at Elections SK is more than capable of meeting this challenge and delivering an election to the people of Saskatchewan.
Wising you all the best at an unprecedented time,
Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan