11,600 full-time jobs lost, unemployment rate climbs

Saskatchewan has lost 11,600 full-time jobs in just one year, driving unemployment up to 5.4 per cent, the largest year-over-year increase among the provinces.

That’s according to the latest report from Statistics Canada, released Friday. It shows that despite low oil prices, Alberta created 25,100 full-time jobs and Manitoba added 7,500 full-time jobs while Saskatchewan moved in the opposite direction.

“It’s not enough for the Sask. Party to stick its head in the sand and claim everything is fine,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “There are thousands of workers who have been forced to replace a great full-time job with a lower-paying part-time job, and there are thousands of families finding it tougher to make ends meet while the cost of living goes up, and their wages don’t keep up.

“This province has been missing the opportunity to strengthen our manufacturing sector, and build a powerful innovation and technology sector. And, it’s been contracting out jobs to other provinces and countries again and again. That has got to stop.”

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Saskatchewan jobs contracted out to European company

Pushing ahead with another contract that doesn’t benefit Saskatchewan, the Sask. Party has chosen a company from the United Kingdom to supply food services in eight provincial correctional centres.

The Sask. Party is eliminating 62 jobs, and shipping taxpayer dollars directly out of the province. It announced Wednesday a multi-million dollar contract has been given to Compass Group.

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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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