NDP asks: what the heck does government think “essential” travel is?

The NDP wants the government to explain its criteria for “essential” travel after a Crown corporation CEO charged taxpayers for his trip to Oscar parties in Los Angeles.

J.P. Ellson, CEO of Creative Saskatchewan, spent taxpayer dollars on a trip to Los Angeles last weekend for the Academy Award festivities.

“This government’s growing sense of entitlement is turning the so-called non-essential travel freeze into a joke,” said NDP critic for culture Cathy Sproule, who added that this particular example is a painful one for Saskatchewan’s former film industry.

“I’m sure the Sask. Party government’s representative was one of the few current Saskatchewan residents there, after it essentially forced most film industry workers to get out of the industry, or get out of the province." 

Sproule said it's time for an explanation from the government. "Creative Saskatchewan is operating in the culture this government has created, and operating under the Sask. Party government’s rules for spending and travel."

The health minister recently revealed that travel for its Lean program won’t be curbed, either. Between Jan. 1 and March 31, the government will send 140 more people on a tour of a health facility in Seattle and an airbag factory in Utah as part of the John Black Lean program. The total travel cost for workers on the Lean trips over just three months is $1.25 million, and that doesn’t include John Black’s expenses.

“Government spending is up more than 70 per cent in about seven years. With that kind of an increase, we should have the best schools and emergency rooms in the country – but instead, we have a government that shovels money into their pet projects, and into satisfying their sense of entitlement,” said Sproule, who added that taxpayers see this type of expense as similar to the premier and cabinet ministers charging taxpayers for chauffeured limousines. 

“For Saskatchewan families, who are hearing from this government that they should brace for budget pain, this doesn’t add up.”


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