Carbon capture bleeding money, 2015 costs unknown and rising

2014 penalty jumped millions of dollars in just weeks

Just a day after the NDP revealed that serious problems with the Sask. Party’s carbon capture experiment cost the province a $12 million penalty, new internal documents show that penalty climbed fast – jumping upwards of $3 million in just one week in 2014.
“The government claims we’re already in for a $5-million to $6-million penalty, plus millions in lost revenue, for 2015 because their billion-dollar experiment isn’t working properly,” said Cathy Sproule, the NDP’s SaskPower critic. “But considering how fast last year’s penalty appeared to rise, Saskatchewan families need to know what we’re paying this year – because sadly, now we’re all bracing for more power rate hikes by the Sask. Party.”

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At least 3,420 fewer surgeries this year after cut by Sask. Party

The Sask. Party is cutting more than 3,420 surgeries this year, according to an admission the government made Monday.

Speaking to media about millions of dollars the Sask. Party cut from the surgeries budget this year, Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the province will do “close to” 86,000 surgeries in the current budget year. That’s compared to the 89,420 surgeries performed province-wide last year.

“Cutting back on surgeries means thousands of people will wait longer this year. They’ll be in pain longer, be frustrated longer and many will be off work longer,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten.

“Wait times have been going in the wrong direction fast since the budget cut in March. With all the waste in health care in Saskatchewan, I simply can’t understand why Mr. Wall decided to cut funding for surgeries. That doesn’t match my priorities, and it doesn’t match the priorities of Saskatchewan patients and families.”

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Sask. Party gifts $12 million to company in bad carbon capture deal

The Sask. Party quietly signed a $12-million cheque to Alberta-based oil company Cenovus for failing to deliver enough carbon dioxide from its carbon capture experiment – despite the fact that Cenovus didn’t need the CO2.

Secret government documents obtained by the NDP say that on Nov. 13, 2014, “The carbon capture facility has not been run at full capacity at this point, partially due to Cenovus not needing CO2 to that level…” Six weeks later, Cenovus sent SaskPower a bill for almost $12 million, as a penalty for not delivering enough CO2 during 2014.

“This money belongs to Saskatchewan families, but it seems the Sask. Party has forgotten that because this $12-million secret payment is disturbing,” said NDP critic for SaskPower Cathy Sproule. “The government's own documents show that Cenovus didn’t need the CO2, and that's why the carbon capture facility wasn't run at full capacity, but the Sask. Party still cut a $12-million cheque to Cenovus as part of a supposed penalty just six weeks later? That makes no sense. Clearly, The Sask. Party's secret deal with Cenovus is an abysmally bad one.

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After funding cuts, surgery wait list grows 50 per cent in six months

As a result of the Sask. Party government's deep cuts to health care, the number of people waiting longer than three months for surgery has jumped by 50 per cent in just six months.

Last week the NDP revealed that the government is cutting $8 million from surgeries in Regina alone. Now, internal documents show that the government knew this funding cut would result in at least 1,000 fewer surgeries in Regina this year.

“It's alarming to see a 50 per cent jump in the number of people waiting more than three months for their surgery,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “Our surgeons and health care professionals had made good progress in tackling surgical wait times, but now we're starting to go far too quickly in the wrong direction as a direct result of the Sask. Party's cuts. I cannot understand how the Sask. Party’s priorities are so misplaced that Mr. Wall chooses to cut surgeries instead of cutting all the waste that his government continues spend our money on.”

Currently, there are 2,485 patients who have been waiting longer than three months for surgery in Regina and Saskatoon. That’s an increase from March, when 1,664 people waited longer than three months.

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Millions cut from surgeries and health care staff

Instead of cutting waste to deal with its deficit, the Sask. Party is cutting millions of dollars out of health care, eliminating jobs and slashing the number of surgeries that will be done this year.

In the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) alone, the government is cutting $8 million of costs by reducing surgeries and almost $13 million in salaries by eliminating 152 full-time jobs.

In total, $38.3 million is being cut in RQHR alone this year.

“There’s a real disconnect between people’s priorities and this government’s choices,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten, who raised the cuts in the legislature’s question period on Thursday. “There are no reductions to the Sask. Party’s toxic, ongoing John Black Lean program, or to any of their 14 Kaizen Promotion Offices. But there are cuts that mean patients will wait longer in emergency rooms, wait longer for a health care worker to be at their bedside, and wait longer for surgery.”

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