Bypass price balloons to $1.88 billion from non-P3 budget of $800 million

Regina needs a bypass – but the government’s pricey and complex P3 ownership deal with a France-based corporation has seen the price balloon to a ludicrous $1.88 billion.

In 2014 the bypass, which was not then planned to be a P3, was pegged at $800 million. After deciding to go the P3 route, the cost rose to $1.2 billion. On Wednesday, the government revealed a new $1.88 billion price tag.

“This rent-a-road scheme is obviously costing more as a P3,” said John Nilson, the NDP deputy house leader. “A straightforward build would mean faster construction, done without unnecessarily handing over millions of dollars to corporations from France, California and British Columbia.”

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NDP says no to John Black-style Lean consultant for education

The government is planning to hire yet another pricey consultant, this time to have the toxic Lean program sweep through education and other government sectors. The NDP is calling for that plan to be scrapped immediately.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire a Lean consultant in education and other areas of government was posted by the Sask. Party this week. Specifically, the government writes, it wants a Lean consultant that aligns with the current Lean beliefs of the government – driven by the controversial and toxic program brought in to health care by $40-million American consultant John Black.

The RFP calls for 425 workers to take Lean training in the first year alone.

“There are deep cuts being made in classrooms. There are teachers, librarians, educational assistants and other staff that won’t be returning in the fall because the Sask. Party government claims Saskatchewan can’t afford them. Classrooms often have 30 or more kids. Many schools are in disrepair, or even crumbling, and have asbestos that the government isn’t fixing,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “This government is choosing a multi-million dollar Lean consultant over the basic investments our children need – that’s a disturbingly misplaced priority.”

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Broten calls for full inquiry on forest fires

NDP Leader also proposes immediate actions

With the immediate threat to northern communities averted thanks to the hard work of fire crews, and with most evacuees returned home, Saskatchewan’s New Democrats are calling for a full forest fire inquiry to address the many concerns raised by northern leaders and community members.

“Over the last month, I've visited the northern fire zone several times and I've heard a lot of frustration about the deep cuts to forest firefighting resources, about policies that are too rigid and restrictive, about the lack of collaboration with First Nations and northern leaders, and even about the lack of basic information shared with those leaders and evacuees,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “I want to see a full, independent review to ensure the appropriate lessons are learned from this experience, and to deliver a much better approach to forest fires going forward.”

Broten said the review must be independent, led by experts appointed in consultation with First Nations and northern leaders, to prevent it from becoming a public relations exercise for the government.

“We're incredibly relieved there was no loss of life, but there has been a tremendous toll on all affected families and communities and I know they have many questions,” said Broten. “What role did all the cuts and shrinking resources have in allowing these forest fires to get so out of control? Why weren’t enough people put on the front lines sooner? Why was there so little collaboration with First Nations that wanted to help house evacuees? Why was information not shared more readily? These are the kinds of questions many northern leaders and community members are asking, and they deserve answers.”

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Man dies during Preeceville hospital closure

Another rural hospital with locked doors; NDP wants a new rural health strategy

Floyd Head had a heart attack in his home just a block away from the Preeceville Hospital, but it took seven hours to get him to Regina – too late to save his life.

The NDP says rural hospitals with locked doors, intermittent hours and understaffing are hurting patients’ access to health care. The NDP is calling for a review of rural health care, and a new strategy to meet the need.

In June, the government shut down the Preeceville emergency room every second week, putting it on “bypass” in alternate weeks, forbidding ambulances from stopping there. On June 28, Head, 74, had chest pains in his home in Preeceville. An ambulance arrived at 11 p.m.

During the long trip to Yorkton, with no emergency department to stop at to have clot-blocking medication administered, Head went from being conscious and talking, to unresponsive. In Yorkton, he received some treatment but was rerouted to Regina, and arrived via airlift at 6 a.m. on June 29, seven hours after calling the ambulance in Preeceville.

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Underfunding health facilities risky for patients

Another air conditioner breaks, thousands of safety incidents related to infrastructure according to former CEO

The NDP wants the government to repair run-down health buildings as yet another infrastructure failure put patients at risk – this time a broken air conditioning unit at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre.

NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier said with crumbling and broken infrastructure plaguing health care, the government needs a new approach.

Infrastructure problems lead to the majority of 33,000 safety incident reports in the Saskatoon Health Region alone, according to the former CEO.

“Most safety incident reports (33K) @Saskatoonhealth: near misses related to infrastructure. 8000 relate to client falls.” That social media post came from CEO Maura Davies before she suddenly resigned in October 2014.

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