The government claims “pre-existing conditions” as grounds to refuse to fix schools
The Sask. Party government refuses to do emergency repairs on school roofs that are “leaking, rotting, and in danger of collapse” because it deems them to be “pre-existing situations.”
Documents obtained through access-to-information laws show the government said no to emergency repairs of dangerous structural issues at multiple schools in at least one school division, Prairie Spirit, which is in the Saskatoon area.
“It is absolutely ridiculous for this government to use legalese and red tape to weasel out of fixing school roofs that are rotting and in danger of collapse, and schools that have major structural damage,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “This is about the safety of children and this is about providing a good space to learn. To say no to these emergency repairs on the grounds that these are pre-existing conditions defies common sense and it says a lot about this government's misplaced priorities.”Read more
Last week, I called on the Government of Saskatchewan to apologize for Saskatchewan’s role in Canada’s Adopt Indian Métis program, also called the '60s Scoop. Today, the government responded positively. I’m pleased, and ready to work together with all members of the Legislative Assembly and First Nations and Métis leaders and community members on this process.Read more
NDP supports update to information and privacy laws
The annual report of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner paints a picture of a government that lacks transparency.
When the government wants to withhold a document that may be accessible under access to information laws, the commissioner reviews the case and issues a report. According to the commissioner, his reports were ignored beyond the deadline to respond 25 per cent of the time in 2014-15.
He also points to a number of examples in the health ministry in which an application to access documents was stonewalled for hundreds of days, violating access laws.
“What we are seeing is a problem with government transparency,” said NDP Justice critic John Nilson. “The records the government continues to withhold are about things like the condition and inspection of hospitals and seniors care homes. This is important information that patients, families and health professionals have a right to know.
“I do not think Saskatchewan people want their government spending its time and taxpayers’ money playing games with public information. A government committed to transparency would make information accessible and be more proactive about releasing information.”Read more
The Opposition New Democrats are again challenging the government's current route for the Regina bypass as a local baseball club whose diamonds will be demolished says the government has ignored their concerns for over two years.
"This government is planning to pave over Pacers Park near Tower Road as part of their flawed plan for the Regina bypass, and has been ignoring the concerns of the Pacers baseball club since early 2013. The Sask. Party failed to do their homework and refuses to listen to legitimate concerns," said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader. "New Democrats want a Regina bypass, but we want that bypass to actually go around Regina, instead of cutting back into the city like the Sask. Party is planning."Read more
The government’s refusal to properly fund students and scrapping of the mid-year adjustment will now result in cuts to staff in Regina schools, and the NDP wants a change to the education funding formula before September to solve the problem.
The Regina Public School Board is being forced to cut $2.55 million in positions as part of its efforts to overcome a $6.1 million funding shortfall, the board said late last week. The schools will also have more Grade 1 students walk to school instead of being bussed and eliminate some noon-hour supervision. The Saskatoon-area Prairie Spirit School Division announced more than 40 job cuts a week ago, including more than 21 educational assistants, eight teacher librarians, positions in special education and more.
“Saskatchewan has had a decade of resource wealth,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “We could and absolutely should have one of the strongest school systems in the country. But this government didn’t invest properly in students and classrooms. Whether it’s crumbling schools that aren’t getting any repair dollars, overcrowded classrooms and schools that can’t afford supports for students like anti-bullying programs, enough educational assistants or English as an additional language supports, it’s the students that lose when the government has misplaced spending priorities.”Read more