Federal money should help people, not oil companies: NDP

With health care wait times sky rocketing, classrooms overcrowded and crumbling, and the province running a massive deficit, Saskatchewan families are outraged at Brad Wall’s request that federal help go straight to oil companies.

Wall announced Monday that he has asked for more than $150 million from the federal government to pay oil companies to clean up wells they’re not using. Oil companies are actually required by law to clean up their own wells – and most do so, as part of their business plan and operating expenses. But Wall says many of these companies should get a bailout from the federal government to clean up their wells right now.

“So many people have called, texted or emailed since yesterday to say they’re disgusted that Brad Wall is pitching for oil companies and not standing up for Saskatchewan people and their families,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “This province has desperate needs in health care and education. Families are struggling with the cost-of-living squeeze. There are major infrastructure needs – from the bridge and hospital in Prince Albert, to Royal University Hospital which is wrapped in nets to keep it from crumbling, to a backlog of municipal projects, schools with literally rotting roofs, and roads and highways that need a lot of work.

“That's where Saskatchewan people want taxpayers' dollars to go – to fix and improve the public services and public infrastructure we should all be able to count on, and to stimulate Saskatchewan’s economy.”

Wotherpsoon said there’s already three provincial programs to help companies clean up their wells, and they require that oil companies pay into a fund to remediate wells abandoned by companies that have gone out of business. While extra federal assistance to deal with those abandoned or orphaned wells – which were owned by companies that are no longer in existence – would be welcome, the priority should be investing in public infrastructure to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

“Oil companies should be living up to their responsibility to clean up their oil wells. That shouldn't be left up to taxpayers,” said Wotherspoon. “When the economy gets tight, Saskatchewan people deserve a government that will focus on middle-class families throughout the province – not a government that just wants millions to go straight into the pockets of some oil companies.”