NDP lays out throne speech must-haves

The NDP is laying out a list of priorities and specifics it wants to see in Wednesday’s speech from the throne – chief among them is for this government to stop ignoring the basics in health care and reverse the trend of declining care and long waits in backed up, run-down hospitals.

“This government has billions of additional revenue each year, thanks to our natural resources and to hard-working families. It can afford to deliver on the things we all count on, but instead it obsesses over pet projects that don’t benefit Saskatchewan people,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten.

“It’s time for a direction that focuses on the things that really matter to Saskatchewan families. It’s time for quality health care in clean, well-equipped hospitals and seniors care homes. It’s time for smaller class sizes in our kids’ schools. It’s time for this government to stop forcing families to keep paying extra – because the cost of living is outstripping gains made by people, making it harder to get ahead.”

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Broten blasts premier's two-tier health care proposal

Government’s plan to allow some to queue-jump will leave most waiting longer for surgery

The NDP is sharply criticizing the premier's proposal to fast-track MRIs for those who can afford to pay extra because it will leave everyone else waiting even longer for their surgeries.

The premier's proposal goes well beyond the private care providers currently operating within the publicly funded system. Premier Brad Wall said Thursday he wants a separate diagnostic stream for the wealthy, in which access to expensive MRIs is determined by people's ability to pay rather than by a doctor's assessment of medical need.

“Saskatchewan families don't want two-tier health care, where you gain access to diagnosis and treatment with a credit card instead of your health card,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “The reality is that Mr. Wall can create two line-ups for MRIs, but there’s still only one line-up for surgeries. Patients who need surgery but can’t afford to buy an expensive, private MRI will wait even longer while patients who can afford a quick, but expensive MRI get on the surgery list ahead of them. That’s just wrong.”

“The status quo is absolutely not acceptable – wait times are far too long. But I want wait times for MRIs, specialists and surgeries improved for everyone in the province, not just for the select few who can afford it.”

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NDP questions why government is establishing a politics museum

The government is quietly developing a plan for a Saskatchewan Museum on Democracy – a plan the NDP said is another example of the government’s obsession with pet projects, and its failure to use taxpayer dollars in the smartest way.

The development of the politics museum is the most significant item in the job description of senior government official Rick Mantey, according to information the NDP obtained through access to information laws.

“This government keeps getting sidetracked by shiny pet projects and it keeps ignoring what really matters to Saskatchewan families,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “Our hospitals are understaffed, filthy and horribly backlogged. Our schools and classrooms are overcrowded and under-resourced. For some reason, this government just can't get the job done on the stuff that really matters, but it's choosing to pursue yet another pet project."

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Time for government to release travel expenses, says NDP

The NDP is reminding the government that Saskatchewan people want to see all ministerial travel expenses, along with the expenses of entourages that travel with ministers, posted online starting this month.

The call for expenses to be posted online came after the NDP revealed then-minister of Social Services June Draude took a trip with a friend as well as a member of her family on the taxpayers’ tab. Draude and her companions visited another friend in Ghana, then travelled to London. Minimal government business was arranged to justify the trips, but Draude billed taxpayers for a chauffeured limo that was, in part, used for sightseeing in London, as well as a high-end luxury hotel for the three. Draude has repayed a small portion of the $19,000 cost for that trip.

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NDP opposes government’s pricey scheme to contract out photo radar policing to Xerox

The government is planning to give Xerox $4.5 million over just two years to run eight photo radar traps in Saskatchewan – a scheme the NDP says is too expensive, and doesn’t make sense.

Under the government’s plan, employees of Xerox in Edmonton will review images from photo radar cameras in Saskatchewan, and Xerox employees will issue speeding tickets to Saskatchewan drivers on behalf of the police. For each of the eight cameras, Saskatchewan will give Xerox more than a half-million dollars.

“The government’s plan just doesn’t make sense,” said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “For $4.5 million dollars, this government could hire more than 40 new police officers. Instead, they’re going to use that money to have a Xerox employee in Edmonton look over photo radar images and issue tickets to Saskatchewan drivers.”

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Saskatchewan NDP Caucus