Smart meter money “won’t be recoverable” says SaskPower

Under questioning from the NDP, SaskPower’s Chief Financial Officer revealed Monday night that if the government doesn’t install Sensus smart meters on Saskatchewan homes again, it will lose $18 million of Saskatchewan families’ money.

“The deeper we dig on the smart meter settlement this government came to with Sensus, the more it appears to be a horrible deal for Saskatchewan people,” said Cathy Sproule, NDP critic for SaskPower.

“Sensus caused fires on Saskatchewan homes, and put over 100,000 families and homes at risk, But, this government has given them a gift of $5 million, and now another $18 million that is, according to SaskPower’s Chief Financial Officer, not going to be recovered.”

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NDP has reintroduced P3 transparency bill

The NDP has reintroduced a bill that would make any public-private partnerships (P3s) the government enters into transparent, accountable and subject to up-front independent value-for-taxpayers evaluations.

NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon introduced The Public-Private Partnership Transparency and Accountability Act last fall, but the government voted to defeat it. Wotherspoon introduced the bill again in the Legislative Assembly this week.

The bill would require an independent accountability watchdog on each P3, and would prevent the government from using the P3 method for major capital projects if there are less than three bidders on the contract. The law would also require the full cost of the project – including the cost of credit – to be reported to taxpayers, as well as an economic analysis – important particularly because bundled P3s will likely shut-out construction companies in Saskatchewan.

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NDP renews legislative call for minimum standards in seniors care

Residents in Care Bill of Rights Act reintroduced

The NDP is continuing its call for the government to address the seniors care crisis in Saskatchewan, including with the reintroduction this week of a bill that will require the government to establish minimum quality of care standards for seniors care homes throughout the province.

“This week, I joined with Margaret Warholm’s family to raise Margaret’s story in the Legislature,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “Margaret’s story is one of shocking neglect at a Regina care home. She wasn’t fed. She was left in a bed constantly without being given help to move. She wasn’t given proper medical attention. By the time Margaret was finally sent to a hospital, she was malnourished and emaciated. She had spinal fractures that were untreated. She had a bedsore covering her entire back and her skin has torn open, leaving her in awful pain. Margaret’s story is horrific and one of the worst I’ve heard – but it’s far from the only one.

“I keep hearing heart-breaking stories of people being neglected in care homes. Their dignity and even their health is being sacrificed in seniors care facilities that have absolutely no minimum care standards, and are often badly understaffed. It’s unacceptable, and it has to stop.”

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NDP introduces legislation for better procurement policy

New purchasing law aimed at supporting local business, long-term savings

The NDP tabled The Fairness for Saskatchewan Businesses in Government Procurement Act Monday, which is aimed at ensuring Saskatchewan businesses do not keep losing out while government contracts are continually handed to companies from other provinces or countries.

"This government's current procurement policy is lazy and it's not getting the best value for Saskatchewan taxpayers," said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. "And it’s leaving Saskatchewan companies out.

"Saskatchewan steel companies tell us they're in lay-off mode because of a lack of work and part of the blame for that is on this government's shoulders, because it keeps giving contracts to companies from Ontario, Quebec, California and Texas. It’s not right that local businesses are having to cut back while the benefits of Saskatchewan’s economy are going to companies and workers from outside our borders."

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Cities’ taxpayers to pay more for P3 schools, minister indicates

The government continues to plow ahead with its plan to have schools maintained and built privately as P3s, and revealed yesterday that in order to do that, taxpayers living in cities with P3 schools will pay more.

The costs of all schools in Saskatchewan are paid by the provincial government and therefore have been shared by all – but now the government says residents will, and should, pay extra if they need more school space in their community.

“We think the cost should be borne by the ratepayers in the areas that are getting the maximum benefit,” Education Minister Don Morgan told reporters at the legislature Thursday.

“Nonsense,” responded NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “Changing the rules of the game and having just some people kick in extra for basic education now is unfair.

“Families in communities that have crowded and run-down classrooms, and not enough classrooms shouldn’t have to pay more than everyone else in order to get enough class space for their kids. A community that needs a school should have a school.”

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