SASKATOON -- A Prince Albert woman says the pastor at her church doesn’t deserve a hefty fine for breaking COVID-19 public health orders.

Theresa Carriere attended four events in a 100-day revival series at the Prince Albert Full Gospel Outreach Centre. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) says dozens of cases trace back to events at the church held between Sept. 14 and Oct. 4.

The outreach has now been fined $14,000. The SHA says fines range from $2,000 for individuals to $10,000 for corporations, plus a victim surcharge.

Carriere said Pastor Vern Temple was providing an important service to the homeless during the pandemic.

“Vern loves people, especially people that most people wouldn’t give another even glance at because, you know, they’re addicted, gang members. I feel like the outreach is an essential service,” she said.

“He doesn’t want the doors shut on any street people that might need somewhere to come in from the cold or if they’re hungry.”

Temple wasn’t leading the 100-day revival meetings, said Carriere.

Preventative measures at those meetings included writing down your name, using hand sanitizer and telling people not to come if they’re sick. She said people did not wear masks while singing, however.

Carriere said a Facebook photo circulating in the media doesn’t accurately portray the meetings. She said the events were moved into a larger space after the photo was taken.

Gospel event

Embassy Church isn’t currently able to hold in-person services after the same person who attended the Full Gospel Outreach Centre with COVID-19 attended one of its services on Oct. 4.

The churches are separate entities, but are both located downtown.

Embassy Church Pastor Meghan Mayer says the individual was not a member of the church. The SHA told everyone who attended the service to self-isolate, she said.

Everyone has tested negative, said Mayer, but were told to complete the 14-day isolation period.

"It's frustrating, absolutely, but I do understand where the medical community is coming from. They're trying to get ahead of something that could be potentially dangerous,” said Mayer.

She said the church was following all COVID-19 protocols.

Mayer also said the $14,000 fine for the Full Gospel Outreach Centre was too harsh.