Minimum wage change puts Saskatchewan in eighth place

The NDP wants a minimum wage that’s both more competitive with other provinces, and gives working people a decent wage to live on.

The government announced Thursday that the new wage will be $10.50 as of Oct. 1. That’s lower than the current minimum wages in eight other provinces and territories. The premier of Alberta has stated her government has plans to raise that province's minimum wage to the highest in Canada, which would bump Saskatchewan down to ninth place.

Read more

Education funding shortfall leads to big cuts in growing schools

Cuts in growing school division near Warman, Martensville includes 21 EAs

The Sask. Party has failed to properly fund education, and the newest outcome of its short funding is sweeping cuts being forced at the Prairie Spirit School Division.

More than 21 educational associates (EAs, also called educational assistants) will be cut for the next school year, according to a letter the school division sent to parents Wednesday. There will also be cuts to pre-school programs, early learning, special education resource staff, librarians, vice-principals and programs supporting children learning English.

The division notes that it will have to make further cuts in response to enrolment growth through the year in its fast-growing schools. That would be because the government has refused to budget for a mid-year funding adjustment to accommodate new students. It’ll also combine classes wherever it can, moving to even larger class sizes.

Read more

Human rights abuse allegations hang over bypass builder gov’t chose

France investigating VINCI and its Qatar FIFA World Cup soccer stadium project

The France-based corporation that will build and maintain the Regina bypass on a 30-year contract has been mired in troubling allegations, and an investigation by the Government of France into its human rights practices. The NDP wants to know if the Sask. Party asked the right questions, or just looked the other way before awarding the corporation a massive contract.

VINCI is the company the government chose to build the Regina bypass. It’s also the corporation building the Qatar soccer stadium in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Paris-based human rights organization Sherpa accuses VINCI of, allegedly, withholding the passports of the migrant workers, forcing them to work long days and preventing them from moving to non-company housing. French authorities determined in April that there is enough evidence to warrant an initial investigation into those allegations.

“We want to know if the government asked the tough questions before inviting this corporation into Saskatchewan, and we want to know what the Sask. Party plans to do should any of the claims be proven in court after their massive deal is finalized,” said NDP labour critic David Forbes.

“This is a corporation we will be tied to for 30 years. Going with a corporation that is connected to alleged human rights concerns just does not match Saskatchewan values.”

Read more

Statement from NDP Leader Cam Broten on the Auditor General’s Senate investigation findings

It's time for leadership and action from the provinces and from the federal government to scrap the money-wasting, do-nothing Senate.

Saskatchewan’s common sense people are sick of seeing public money wasted on unaccountable senators. Now, we're hearing about even more misspending, with Canada’s Auditor General flagging inappropriate expenses of 30 more senators and recommending that nine more be referred to the RCMP.  Saskatchewan has six senators, and in addition to Senator Pamela Wallin, three more including two sitting senators have had their expenses flagged as inappropriate.

I want the federal House of Commons to defund the Senate now, and I want the federal government to work with the provinces to get to work securing the mandate to scrap this rotten relic. I’m proud of the long-standing New Democrat position to do just that.

I do not support Brad Wall’s claim that “it’s not worth the effort” to try to change the minds of any other province that still supports the senate. Yes, it is. It’s worth over $100 million every year.

Despite foster care crisis, government’s appointed politician does nothing

Documents obtained by Freedom of Information laws show the Sask. Party MLA appointed to work on the growing child protection crisis has done not one single bit of work in a full year in that job.

Greg Lawrence was appointed to be the legislative secretary for foster families in January 2014, as hundreds of foster families were quitting and a number of children had fallen victim to preventable tragedies. More than a year later, the Opposition used access laws to request all emails and letters sent, and any reports or work done by Lawrence – and found out that absolutely nothing had been done.

“No emails. No letters. No meeting records. No reports. It’s painfully obvious that in the face of a crisis that is putting vulnerable children at risk, this government feels a little lip service is enough,” said Social Services critic David Forbes. “Foster homes are overcrowded. Tragically, little ones have lost their lives. Yet this government is absolutely not taking this seriously.”

Read more