People’s agenda to control session: NDP

Four NDP bills on the table already; session to start Tuesday

The NDP has a strong agenda of legislation it wants passed, and problems it wants fixed during the fall session of the Legislative Assembly – a plan built by listening to growing concerns among Saskatchewan families.

“The Sask. Party keeps dismissing concerns like overcrowded, under-resourced classrooms, long waits for specialists and the ongoing crisis in seniors care. They're handing huge government contracts to out-of-province and out-of-country companies instead of supporting Saskatchewan businesses which create good, mortgage-paying jobs. It's no wonder why more and more people are saying that the Sask. Party seems to be growing increasingly out of touch,” said NDP house leader Warren McCall.

“Mr. Wall’s plan to coast to the provincial election without any improvements in hospitals, classrooms or seniors care homes – that’s not on, if you ask everyday families. And his plan to keep favouring foreign corporations instead of Saskatchewan businesses – that's not on either. This government left their agenda for the fall session pretty blank, and we intend to fill it with things that really matter to Saskatchewan families.”

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5,800 full-time jobs lost, Sask. Party on a contracting-out spree

Statistics Canada says Saskatchewan shed 5,800 full-time jobs during the past year, throughout which the Sask. Party chose to send massive contracts to foreign corporations instead of hiring locally.

The full-time job losses were somewhat offset by the addition of part-time jobs.

“Instead of adding good, mortgage-paying careers here in Saskatchewan, we're seeing a trend toward precarious part-time employment,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “We need to stop all the contracting out this government is doing, because that's a big part of that problem.”

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Health minister denies life-saving treatment for kids using wrong information

The Sask. Party government denied three children the only treatment that could stop the progression of their painful disease, and now it’s clear it used completely false information to justify that decision.

Sask. Party Health Minister Dustin Duncan denied the Akhter children, aged 8, 10 and 12, their only hope to stop the disease. In explaining his decision, Duncan claimed the drug Vimizim hasn’t been proven effective in treating children older than five. However, Duncan had it completely wrong – the drug is intended for patients over five years old. It’s only patients under five for which Vimizim has not yet been fully tested.

On Monday, Duncan spoke at length about saying no to the life-saving treatment because the kids are older than five. To reporters, he said: “the common drug review process had indicated that there just isn’t enough evidence to prove that the efficacy of this drug, and there doesn’t seem to be, especially when you get over the age of five in this case, that, the longer that it takes for this drug to be administered, the disease progresses to a point where it just becomes a question of whether or not there is efficacy to administering this drug.” He also said: “the outside expert out of our province that did recommend that because these children are over the age of five, it just, there isn’t the evidence that suggests that there would be efficacy involved in providing this drug.”

“The health minister's whole spiel was made up and dead wrong,” said Danielle Chartier, NDP Health critic. “It's bad enough to deny life-saving treatment to kids, but basing that decision on blatantly wrong information is being reckless with three children’s lives. This government needs to get its facts right, and allow these kids to start treatment immediately.”

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Clear message on farmland ownership: loopholes must be fixed

The results of a recent government survey show it has had the wrong approach to farmland ownership, and more needs to be done to prevent foreign and institutional ownership of Saskatchewan farmland.

Loopholes in The Saskatchewan Farm Ownership Act allowed a massive sale of Saskatchewan farmland to an institutional investor, and concerns remain that foreign dollars may still back farmland purchases.

The survey released Tuesday by the Government of Saskatchewan shows that the vast majority of Saskatchewan people do not want foreign ownership of Saskatchewan farmland, large institutional investors buying farmland, or foreign money backing farmland purchases. The survey also showed that 85 per cent of people want the government to do a better job enforcing that.

Yet, the Sask. Party watched and took no action while Assiniboia Farmland sold 115,000 acres that produces wheat, barley, canola and other crops to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. That deal closed in early 2014. Assiniboia’s co-founders are the Sask. Party’s former executive director and a former senior advisor to Brad Wall.

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Saskatchewan lagging on minimum wage

The NDP believes Saskatchewan’s minimum wage shouldn’t be lower than Alberta and Manitoba’s, yet Saskatchewan’s 30-cent minimum wage change on Oct. 1 will keep Saskatchewan behind Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec and the territories.

“Housing, school fees, power bills, tuition and all the things we pay extra for these days has made the cost of living in Saskatchewan harder for everyone,” said NDP Labour critic David Forbes. “Someone who works two jobs shouldn’t have to use a food bank to put food on the table. Too many parents are forced to choose between food, school supplies or the power bill, and that’s not good for their families, or for building healthy communities as a whole.”

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