Saskatchewan’s independent provincial auditor has issued a warning that the government’s central books cannot be trusted – and the NDP is calling for the resignation of the finance minister as a result.
For the first time ever in Canada, the independent provincial auditor filed an adverse audit opinion on the government’s central financial statements. The very serious move from the auditor is unprecedented in Canada. The provincial auditor’s adverse audit opinion states that this government's 2013 general revenue fund statements are "full of errors" and "not reliable."
"It's shocking to have the provincial auditor warn taxpayers that this government's books can't be trusted," said NDP Leader Cam Broten. "If the books can’t be trusted, neither can the finance minister manipulating them. It’s time for the premier to ask for that minister's resignation."
The government’s one-time seniors-care fund is a response that falls far short of a cure for the crisis in seniors care – a crisis caused by dramatic short-staffing and the absence of minimum standards.
“We welcome the replacement equipment and improvements health regions will get as a result of this allocation, but the root of the seniors care crisis is still being ignored by this government,” said NDP health critic Danielle Chartier after the government revealed the allocation of the funding Friday. “This government is putting a bandaid on a much deeper illness in seniors care.”
The NDP has been raising concern over the treatment of seniors in care for months. Families from throughout the province have come forward to say their loved ones have been left to soil themselves, are being bathed less than once per week and are not being given time or help to eat.
On Thursday, the government voted against an NDP bill which would have made public-private partnership projects (P3s) more transparent to Saskatchewan families and more accountable to taxpayers.
“This is a disappointment,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “This bill could have put the government on the same page as the rest of us. Saskatchewan people, including the Opposition, want P3 deals to be transparent and accountable to taxpayers, and we don’t want to go down the P3 road if the costs aren’t competitive. I’m somewhat surprised the government refused to support that, even in principle.”
The crisis in seniors care, understaffing and overcrowding in hospitals, crowded and crumbling schools and an economy that is not diverse enough were the focus of the legislature this fall.
“Health care and education are getting worse under this government, and that has to stop,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten.
“Especially in today’s strong economy, I don’t accept the government’s excuses, and Saskatchewan people tell me they don’t either. They don’t need excuses – they need better health care and decent, dignified seniors care. They need schools with reasonable classroom sizes for their kids, and enough teachers and educational assistants. They need a long-term plan to replace this government’s record of moving from crisis to crisis.”
The NDP is expressing concern for the 440 Saskatchewan families hurt by job losses in the potash industry today, and will watch closely the reaction from the provincial government to ensure it fits the needs of workers and employers.
“A job loss can be devastating to a family, and never more so than right before Christmas,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “We feel for those potash workers and their families who were laid off today. We’ll be looking for the reaction from the provincial government to coordinate with the company, the unions, the workers and their communities with the goal of minimizing the impact of the job losses on the families affected and on the province.”
The NDP also said these layoffs serve as another reminder of the importance of diversifying the economy.