Sask. Party gifts $12 million to company in bad carbon capture deal

The Sask. Party quietly signed a $12-million cheque to Alberta-based oil company Cenovus for failing to deliver enough carbon dioxide from its carbon capture experiment – despite the fact that Cenovus didn’t need the CO2.

Secret government documents obtained by the NDP say that on Nov. 13, 2014, “The carbon capture facility has not been run at full capacity at this point, partially due to Cenovus not needing CO2 to that level…” Six weeks later, Cenovus sent SaskPower a bill for almost $12 million, as a penalty for not delivering enough CO2 during 2014.

“This money belongs to Saskatchewan families, but it seems the Sask. Party has forgotten that because this $12-million secret payment is disturbing,” said NDP critic for SaskPower Cathy Sproule. “The government's own documents show that Cenovus didn’t need the CO2, and that's why the carbon capture facility wasn't run at full capacity, but the Sask. Party still cut a $12-million cheque to Cenovus as part of a supposed penalty just six weeks later? That makes no sense. Clearly, The Sask. Party's secret deal with Cenovus is an abysmally bad one.

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After funding cuts, surgery wait list grows 50 per cent in six months

As a result of the Sask. Party government's deep cuts to health care, the number of people waiting longer than three months for surgery has jumped by 50 per cent in just six months.

Last week the NDP revealed that the government is cutting $8 million from surgeries in Regina alone. Now, internal documents show that the government knew this funding cut would result in at least 1,000 fewer surgeries in Regina this year.

“It's alarming to see a 50 per cent jump in the number of people waiting more than three months for their surgery,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “Our surgeons and health care professionals had made good progress in tackling surgical wait times, but now we're starting to go far too quickly in the wrong direction as a direct result of the Sask. Party's cuts. I cannot understand how the Sask. Party’s priorities are so misplaced that Mr. Wall chooses to cut surgeries instead of cutting all the waste that his government continues spend our money on.”

Currently, there are 2,485 patients who have been waiting longer than three months for surgery in Regina and Saskatoon. That’s an increase from March, when 1,664 people waited longer than three months.

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Millions cut from surgeries and health care staff

Instead of cutting waste to deal with its deficit, the Sask. Party is cutting millions of dollars out of health care, eliminating jobs and slashing the number of surgeries that will be done this year.

In the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) alone, the government is cutting $8 million of costs by reducing surgeries and almost $13 million in salaries by eliminating 152 full-time jobs.

In total, $38.3 million is being cut in RQHR alone this year.

“There’s a real disconnect between people’s priorities and this government’s choices,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten, who raised the cuts in the legislature’s question period on Thursday. “There are no reductions to the Sask. Party’s toxic, ongoing John Black Lean program, or to any of their 14 Kaizen Promotion Offices. But there are cuts that mean patients will wait longer in emergency rooms, wait longer for a health care worker to be at their bedside, and wait longer for surgery.”

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P3 maintenance costs astronomical

The Sask. Party will pay more than $800 million for foreign corporations to handle maintenance on just two P3 projects – which New Democrats say is a shocking waste of taxpayer money.

The Regina bypass P3 project includes $680 million in maintenance costs. The Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford P3 contract includes $185 million in maintenance costs.

“These appear to be terrible deals the Sask. Party will reach into families’ pockets to pay for,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “I fundamentally disagree with their decision to send jobs to corporations from London and France instead of creating Saskatchewan jobs. And it’s becoming more obvious with the slow leak of details about these P3 rental schemes that taxpayers will be paying far more, far longer.”

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Cuts at seniors care home lead to end of dementia wing, ‘bedlam’

Despite very serious concerns about short-staffing in seniors care, the Sask. Party is still cutting – this time, resulting in a specialized dementia unit being shut down, and a seniors care home falling into chaos.

“The staff here are wonderful, but they went and shorted us here in May of this year – shorted our staff. And when they shorted the staff, that’s why they had to open the north doors, where the dementia people are. That’s their home,” said Jim Lawrence, a resident of Ross Payant care home in Assiniboia, near Moose Jaw.

“Now they’ve got such a small staff on at night that it’s hard to get any help if you need it,” said Don Reid, a resident at Ross Payant.

NDP Leader Cam Broten, who raised the seniors care cut in question period on Wednesday, said the Sask. Party has broken their hollow promise to take seniors care seriously.

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