Government considers dumping school building costs onto municipalities, property owners

The deputy minister of Education said Tuesday the government is considering dumping financial responsibility to build schools onto municipalities and, ultimately, property tax payers.

“Despite the strong economy, this government is failing at the basic job of building schools,” said Deputy Leader and education critic Trent Wotherspoon. “And, this government’s suggestion Tuesday that it might just drop some of that responsibility and that cost onto municipalities instead – that’s just plain wrong.”

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Surgeries cancelled while government sits on infrastructure problems report

NDP health critic Danielle Chartier said cancelling surgeries at Royal University Hospital (RUH) may not have been necessary if the government weren’t ignoring $1.9 billion in infrastructure problems at hospitals and health facilities.

“This government has a report that describes $1.9 billion in necessary repairs and replacements in our health facilities,” said Chartier. “The government continues to put all faith, time and money into its Lean pet project while ignoring the basics, and buildings like RUH are literally crumbling.

“The time is overdue for this government to start taking its infrastructure problem seriously.”

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Hickie collects MLA salary, but divides his time to return to old job

Premier Brad Wall has allowed Prince Albert Carlton MLA Darryl Hickie to return to his old job as a police officer with two years still left in his term as an MLA – reducing the already meagre representation Prince Albert families get at the Legislature while Hickie collects two taxpayer-funded salaries.

“It shows a concerning sense of entitlement that Hickie believes taxpayers should continue to pay him his sizable MLA salary while he moves on to the next part of his career,” said NDP justice critic John Nilson. “As it is, the MLAs for Prince Albert have not spoken up in the Legislature for the people and businesses they are supposed to represent. Prince Albert families need a much more engaged, committed MLA – not an MLA switching to part-time while collecting a full-time salary.”

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Wall advisor quietly removed from top job after expense scandals

The premier’s high-powered close advisor, cabinet secretary and Usher of the Black Rod has been quietly removed from his top government post after the expense scandals of senior government ministers.

Ministers Ken Krawetz and June Draude enjoyed luxury chauffeurs and personal dinners with friends overseas while the cost was billed to taxpayers through cabinet secretary Rick Mantey. In May, the premier said he found no other inappropriate expenses associated with Mantey and had decided on only a short probation for his close and long-serving advisor.

But, Mantey has been removed from his senior posts, despite the premier’s praise for Mantey’s work as Saskatchewan’s representative in other countries and directly to Buckingham Palace just weeks ago.

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Lack of depth means Wall didn’t shuffle out problems

Thursday’s cabinet shuffle shows a lack of depth on the government’s roster. The premier was forced to keep ministers who have caused problems in their portfolios, and failed to find anyone to represent several cities.

“This cabinet shuffle shows a lack of bench strength within that government’s ranks,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “The fact that the premier couldn’t find anyone to take over the Finance portfolio, even after Ken Krawetz announced he’s retiring, is telling. Krawetz is one of the cabinet ministers who had to pay taxpayers back for inappropriately billing them for a luxury chauffeured limo. Plus, our debt has gone up and our long-term savings is non-existent. It should have been time to move on, but it looks like there was no one to promote.”

Broten also said the decision to keep Dustin Duncan in health and Don Morgan in education puts the premier’s stubbornness on display, and shows he has no one else to turn to.

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