Sask. Party’s P3 schools have seven non-Sask. corps sharing profits

The Sask. party awarded two massive P3 schools contracts Monday – to the same multi-national conglomerate – so seven non-Saskatchewan corporations and two Saskatchewan companies will take a profit from Saskatchewan children’s schools.

A large firm headquartered in Milwaukee will be responsible for maintenance and operations of Saskatchewan schools on two long-term contracts, likely about 30 years. P3 deals are costly complex ownership and financing schemes in which the province essentially rents its own schools from management conglomerates. In P3 deals, one or several large for-profit corporations put up the capital in exchange for a hefty profit and massive interest fees.

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Don’t sign P3 schools contract, start straightforward schools build now: NDP

P3 rental schemes have worked poorly and cost more in other provinces. The NDP wants the Sask. Party to turn away from its P3 schools scheme before the contract is signed, and instead start building schools in a cost-effective and transparent way.

The NDP has previously criticized the government's plan to use a massive, bundled P3 to have private corporations build and operate schools in Saskatchewan. Now, with the government just about to sign the contract and evidence from other jurisdictions' bad P3 experiences piling up, the Opposition says it's urgent that the plan changes before the province is locked in to a 30-year bad deal.

“Instead of awarding a private conglomerate from another province or country a lucrative deal to build and manage our children’s schools for the next 30 years, let’s learn from other provinces and just do this the straightforward way,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “If we decide to own and maintain our schools ourselves – as we always have – we save money, we get building immediately and our communities will get all the access to the schools they’ve always had.

“The delays have already been too long, and the consulting and bidding fees we’ve paid are already piling up. The government needs to stop its rent-a-school plan before it hands out a multi-million-dollar contract to an out-of-province and out-of-country conglomerate.”

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Moose Jaw seniors care home temps reach 35-degrees

The air conditioning is broken at seniors care home Providence Place in Moose Jaw, and with inside temperatures soaring to 35 degrees, those raising concerns are being told to wait for August or even September for relief.

A number of staff and family members have contacted the Opposition to say their pleas to local Moose Jaw MLAs and the health minister have been dismissed. A new air conditioning unit won’t be rushed – it’ll come closer to the fall. The NDP wants installation of the new unit sped up, and temporary rentals installed in the meantime.

“Simply dismissing concerns in seniors care homes is par for the course with this government,” said NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier. “It can’t happen this time. These seniors and long-term care residents are suffering, and in danger.”

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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.

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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.

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