Check on child protection claims necessary

Minister of Social Services caught exaggerating progress

The Opposition says the progress reports from Donna Harpauer on child protection need a second look after she was caught exaggerating progress on a critical recommendation.

In May 2014 and again in May 2015, the Advocate for Children and Youth recommended that the ministry undertake a contract to investigate the workload of child protection workers. Twice in May 2015, in response to that and other recommendations, Harpauer distributed a public update that claimed her ministry had already entered into such a contract. But, a tender for the contract was noticed after that claim – proving that Harpauer was, at best, uninformed about what is happening in her ministry.

“Ms. Harpauer is simply not taking the major concerns in the foster system and child protection system seriously enough,” said NDP Social Services critic David Forbes. “When she responded to the coroner’s inquest into the death of Lee Bonneau, and again when she responded to a special investigation into the tragic death of a foster child that drowned in a bathtub, I was concerned about the fact that she was pretty dismissive about how much work her ministry needs to do. But, to find out now that even the incredibly slow progress she claimed was being made was overstated – that’s deeply concerning.”

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Every health region identifies short-staffing on CEO tour

Lazy government report literally cut-and-paste from facility to facility, year to year

Every single health region identifies short-staffing and quality of care issues in seniors care homes, despite two years of reports, evidence and devastating family stories that should have caused the government to take action.

And, the lazy and sanitized report is also riddled with, literally, sections cut-and-pasted from both other pages of the same report or even pages from last year’s report, often both.

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NDP wants school funding fix before kids go back in the fall

Band programs latest victim of Sask. Party’s short funding of students

The Opposition wants the funding for school boards repaired before the school year starts.

The NDP also says the government was wrong to cut the mid-year adjustment that funded enrolment growth, and wants money set aside for that.

“The Sask. Party has had record revenues and has been spending all of it as fast as it comes in, and then some. But, where has all the money gone? School boards and kids sure aren’t benefiting – and this government isn’t making them the priority they should be,” said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader and Education critic.

“School boards are being forced to make painful spending decisions. That means the classes are getting more and more crowded. There are already too few educational assistants, after the government slashed their numbers, and one-on-one attention is often not there when kids need it. And, in the case of Prairie Spirit School Division, they’ve been forced to eliminate the band program – and the Sask. Party should be absolutely ashamed of that.”

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New environment minister doesn’t know what he thinks about climate change

Herb Cox counts zebra mussels as a higher priority than greenhouse gas emissions

Moments after being appointed as Saskatchewan's new environment minister, Herb Cox told media Thursday he doesn’t really know what he thinks about climate change.

When pushed repeatedly on whether he personally believes that climate change is real, he said: “Those are the kinds of the things that I want to talk to my officials about and find out where we're at as far as the science goes.”

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Cabinet shuffle shows lack of depth, lack of good judgment

If Brad Wall was hoping to infuse some new energy in his tired cabinet, he’s missed the mark by a long shot, says the Opposition.

Brad Wall shuffled his cabinet Thursday, moving a few current ministers into each other’s portfolios. The only new addition is Herb Cox, a campaign manager for the Sask. Party’s Elwin Hermanson-led election bid in 2003.

“These guys are getting more and more tired, but Mr. Wall has no bench strength he can trust to replace them. There really isn’t a next-generation cabinet there,” said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon.

“This is the same cabinet that decided to add $1.5 billion of debt this year, jacking it up to over $13.2 billion dollars. And this is the cabinet that drained the rainy day savings fund, failed to save a penny during a boom and still can’t explain where all the money has gone.”

Wotherspoon pointed out that Moose Jaw and Prince Albert will still go unrepresented in cabinet.

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