The NDP is laying out a list of priorities and specifics it wants to see in Wednesday’s speech from the throne – chief among them is for this government to stop ignoring the basics in health care and reverse the trend of declining care and long waits in backed up, run-down hospitals.
“This government has billions of additional revenue each year, thanks to our natural resources and to hard-working families. It can afford to deliver on the things we all count on, but instead it obsesses over pet projects that don’t benefit Saskatchewan people,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten.
“It’s time for a direction that focuses on the things that really matter to Saskatchewan families. It’s time for quality health care in clean, well-equipped hospitals and seniors care homes. It’s time for smaller class sizes in our kids’ schools. It’s time for this government to stop forcing families to keep paying extra – because the cost of living is outstripping gains made by people, making it harder to get ahead.”
Broten said spending more money isn’t necessary – the government is already spending about $14 billion this year, compared to less than $8 billion in 2007. But, instead of pet projects that don’t help Saskatchewan families, the NDP wants resources to go directly into the quality-of-life issues that matter most to people. Broten is calling for money currently being spent on Lean consultants and promotion offices to go directly into improving front-line health care, and for the millions being held back to create an old-fashioned standardized testing regime to be redirected into meeting actual needs in overcrowded, under-resourced classrooms.
With $14 billion in revenue expected, Broten also said the government shouldn’t have to raise rates and fees on Saskatchewan families any more this year.
Broten said the must-haves list also spells out the priorities the NDP will push for during the fall session of the legislature.
“Politics can’t just be about the province doing well – it can’t just be about having good economic statistics,” said Broten. “For me, it must always be about people doing well. That’s exactly what the Opposition is focused on.”
THE NDP’S THRONE SPEECH MUST-HAVES
FIXING HEALTH CARE
- Scrap the cash-cow contract with the American Lean consultant.
- Stop flying in Japanese Lean senseis and paying them $3,500 per day to provide irrelevant Lean training sessions for front-line health care workers.
- Close down the Kaizen Promotion Offices, which exist to promote the government’s Lean pet project, immediately saving $17 million per year
- Take the money saved from ending the costly Lean contract and closing the Kaizen Promotion Offices and redirect that money onto the front lines of health care, targeting patient safety and quality of care. Specifically, well over $30 million would be saved this year alone ($17 million for the Kaizen Promotion Offices; $10 million for John Black and Associates; additional millions for sending hundreds of workers to the United States for Lean Leader training as well as the amount allocated for Japanese Senseis), which can be invested into addressing short-staffing; shortening emergency-room wait times and reducing waits for specialists.
- Regulate appropriate minimum quality-of-care standards for all care facilities.
- Implement a residents-in-care bill of rights for seniors care and long-term care, as recommended by the government's own Law Reform Commission.
- Reopen Saskatoon City Hospital to acute care, reverse the decision that had patient beds removed from entire wings in City Hospital so that managers' desks could be moved in, and lay out a multi-year plan to have City Hospital’s emergency room open 24-hours a day.
- Stop pouring so much money into bloated health care administration, and redirect that money to where it matters most – the front lines.
- Stop ignoring urgent needs in care facilities for front-line staff, equipment and repairs and outline a strategy to meet those needs, starting with the $8.5 million in urgent requests from care facilities, which this government rejected last year.
- Stop ignoring the $2.2 billion in needed repairs to hospitals and care facilities, identified in the independent report from VFA Canada, and reveal a clear health facilities capital priority list to let staff, patients and residents know when their crumbling hospitals and seniors care homes will be repaired or replaced.
- Improve supports for seniors to live independently in their own homes for as long as they want and reveal a multi-year strategy to create more spaces for residential seniors care to better meet the growing need.
- Deliver the one-on-one attention that our kids deserve, by putting enough educational assistants back into our classrooms and by putting into action a multi-year plan to reduce class sizes, including a plan to implement appropriate class-size caps, prioritizing early years.
- Build much-needed new schools in a responsible and transparent way, rather than the government's current flawed, expensive P3 rent-a-school plan.
- Work with First Nations and the federal government to swiftly solve the unacceptable inequities in education for First Nations children, to ensure that all Saskatchewan children receive a good quality of education.
- Redirect the money this government earmarked for an out-dated standardized testing regime directly into meeting actual needs in our overcrowded, under-resourced classrooms.
LOOKING OUT FOR VULNERABLE CHILDREN
- Improve the child protection system, by reducing caseloads for child protection workers, requiring workers to be Registered Social Workers, and licensing foster homes.
- Develop a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.
MAKING LIFE MORE AFFORDABLE
- Act to address the high cost of living and increased out-of-pocket expenses for Saskatchewan families who have been paying more for fewer services from the government.
ENSURING OUR ECONOMIC PROSPERITY WILL LAST
- Proclaim and promote a monthly Buy Local Day.
- Fix the government's flawed procurement policies, so Saskatchewan's businesses are no longer put at a disadvantage. Implement a new, much more sophisticated procurement policy, which recognizes overall lowest cost instead of just lowest initial bid, and recognizes Saskatchewan local knowledge.
- Focus on diversifying our economy, by supporting programs that encourage business development and job creation in innovative technologies, information technologies, infrastructure innovation and cultural industries, so we're not so heavily reliant on natural resources.
- Reduce reliance on the temporary foreign worker program, and significantly increase training and employment programs for First Nations and Métis people.
- Work for further improvements to the grain transportation system, to help farmers instead of just making life easier for the big rail companies.
- Develop a comprehensive anti-flooding strategy, including an appropriate drainage plan, to protect farmers, homeowners, businesses and communities.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
- Stop cutting climate change programs and environmental assessment and protection programs and start investing in more clean, renewable power.
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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus