Opposition joins companies in calling for overhaul of government procurement policies
The NDP wants the government to change its procurement policies so Saskatchewan businesses do not keep losing out while work is continually handed to companies from other provinces and countries.
The steel fabrication industry is one sector that has had enough of the government's policies undermining businesses in our province. For over 17 months, the industry has been pressuring the government behind the scenes for changes to its procurement policies, but the government has failed to act on their repeated calls.
"Local steel businesses tell me they're in lay-off mode because of a lack of work and a big part of the problem is that this government keeps giving contracts to companies from Ontario, Quebec, California and Texas. That's frustrating and it's not right," said Broten. "This should be a loud wake-up call for this government. We shouldn't have to wait until these businesses shut down or leave the province before we see some real action from this government that finally starts putting Saskatchewan's interests first."
The province has pushed the cost of funding northern affordable housing off itself and onto northern communities – a move the NDP says shows that this government doesn’t understand the desperate need for housing in the north.
The NDP wants to know if the government’s massive $3 million tab for a lobbyist in the United States has actually benefitted Saskatchewan families, or mostly just the premier and some American politicians.
Despite the massive price tag, revealed by media Monday, the American lobbyist seemingly has done very little for Saskatchewan.
The 2013 disclosure report of the lobbying firm Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough shows it did no work for Saskatchewan or Premier Brad Wall in February, May, July, August, November or December. During the months it did some work for Saskatchewan, meeting with about 10 individuals were arranged for Premier Brad Wall in the United States.
A handful of meetings of a year is hardly worth a multi-million dollar payday, according to the NDP.
Moreover, many American politicians who agreed to meet with Wall received campaign donations from Saskatchewan’s lobbyist shortly before or after the meeting – a fact NDP Leader Cam Broten demanded accountability on.
“What are Saskatchewan families actually getting from this huge payout of public dollars?,” Broten asked. “How are a few meetings that haven’t produced results of any value benefitting anyone other than Mr. Wall and, potentially, the American politicians who agreed to meet him?”
While Royal University Hospital is horrifically backed up, City Hospital sits half-empty
26 of 38 beds at Royal University Hospital’s emergency room were occupied Tuesday by admitted patients for whom there is no available hospital bed, the media confirmed Tuesday – causing the NDP to renew its call for the government to reopen City Hospital to acute care.
The government shut down acute care at Saskatoon’s City Hospital in 2008, and reduced its emergency room hours to daytime only.
“The decisions this government has made regarding City Hospital completely dismisses common sense and the needs of patients,” said NDP health critic Danielle Chartier. “There are not enough patient beds in Saskatoon and area. Patients are waiting in the ER for a hospital bed, and more are stuck in the waiting room while the city’s biggest and busiest ER tries to operate with only 12 beds available to ER patients.
High prices aren’t good for the labour market, or families who are tired of paying more, says NDP
The price of a university education in Saskatchewan jumped more than anywhere else in Canada for this school year, and students in Saskatchewan’s universities now pay the second-highest tuition in the country.
According to numbers released by Statistics Canada Thursday, average undergraduate tuition has been hiked by 4 per cent in Saskatchewan compared to last year while graduate tuition fees rose by an average of 5.2 per cent for Saskatchewan students. Both these numbers outstrip every other province.
Tuition for Saskatchewan’s students is now the second-most expensive in the nation, second only to Ontario’s universities.