Cam Broten uses fall legislature to contrast his choices with Wall’s misplaced priorities
The fall session of the legislative assembly ended Thursday with NDP Leader Cam Broten pointing out that Brad Wall has changed, and his decisions on where to spend and where to make painful cuts have gotten very out of line with Saskatchewan families.
“The Sask. Party has had a golden opportunity with our resource boom delivering revenues like never before over the last decade,” said Broten. “For a time, in the early days of the Wall government, we were actually on pretty similar pages as to what to do with that money. Things like pay down some debt and hire more nurses.
“But Mr. Wall has changed and his priorities just don't match Saskatchewan people's priorities anymore. Instead of our prosperity being used to make life better for everyone, to improve health care and seniors care and education, we’re seeing more and more bad choices that benefit foreign corporations over Saskatchewan businesses, and make life better for government politicians instead of making life easier for families.”
Wall is spending tens of millions of dollars on Lean promoters within health care every year. And senior health executives have had massive raises – averaging as high as 46 per cent in one health region.
Meanwhile, the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region has already announced more than 150 front line jobs are being eliminated, and the Saskatoon Health Region now confirms layoffs in that region are coming. The surgical budget has been cut, so the number of people waiting province-wide has increased 70 per cent since just March. Specialist waits have grown to about 11 months and emergency room (ER) waits are so long that 18,000 ER patients in just four health regions left before a doctor could get to them last year.
“I choose front-line jobs and patient care – Mr. Wall chooses Lean consultants, hundreds of Lean promoters and a bloated executive management list,” said Broten.
Wall is spending extra to hire a Milwaukee Corporation to do school maintenance and plans to put John Black Lean in schools, but he’s cut spending for students and classrooms, he’s refusing to fund enrolment growth and he’s forcing cuts to things like lunch-time supervision and educational assistants.
“We put a bill on the table that would cap class sizes, because it’s what students, teachers and parents need,” said Broten, whose party’s education bill addressed class sizes, school infrastructure, bulling and cyberbullying and more. “Inviting foreign corporations into our kids' schools doesn’t help them learn and succeed. Teachers and EAs help them learn and succeed.”
While the cost of living for Saskatchewan families has been rising fast, self-entitlement among the Sask. Party has been creeping in – another choice Broten says is out of touch with everyday families.
“When a premier believes it’s right to have free limos for politicians while he has the most expensive ambulance rides in the country for patients – that’s a big problem.
“Wall believes it’s right for him to have two travel scouts, flying the world to scope out VIP lounges and test out luxury hotels for him. But he doesn’t understand why charging heart attack patients $440 for their rehabilitation is unacceptable. That’s a big problem.
“And sinking billions into failed and fire-prone smart meters and a sputtering carbon capture experiment without any consideration of the SaskPower bills we all have to pay every month – that’s a big problem too.”
Broten said the fall session was also one in which Saskatchewan families learned they can no longer trust what Wall says.
“When this session started, we didn’t know that the $1.5-billion carbon capture experiment wasn’t working, because Mr. Wall was lying to us. We didn’t know that the Sask. Party had quietly broken and walked away from its promise to eliminate ER wait times, because Mr. Wall kept that information from us.
“His Finance Minister said there were no budget claw backs, even though there were. There’s been so many areas where Mr. Wall and his government haven't been honest and transparent – because they've changed over the years.
“The takeaway for Saskatchewan people from this session is that we’re just not the Sask. Party’s priority anymore.”