NDP kicks off session with focus on budget, big money, and child nutrition

The NDP Opposition Caucus kicked off the spring session by directly challenging the idea that the coming budget will represent a return to “balance” for Saskatchewan. The Sask. Party government has yet to deliver a third-quarter financial report, are using special warrants to hide additional spending in last year’s budget, and have cut $74 million from education. Opposition members also reaffirmed their commitment to get big money out of politics and reverse the addition of PST to construction labour.

“A provincial budget should be much more than a marketing exercise, especially when so many families are struggling,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “This government has taken zero responsibility for how they squandered the good times and then cut services and sold off Crowns during the hard times.”

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NDP to focus on kids, trust, and the economy this session

The Saskatchewan NDP will be heading into the spring session with a focus on good economic management, ethical government, and investing in kids.

NDP leader Ryan Meili says he and the rest of his caucus will be seeking accountability for the Sask. Party’s cuts and backward spending choices, and calling on the government to act to build a better future for our kids and future generations. He is also seeking to expand public participation in their work of holding government accountable by inviting members of the public to share the questions they want to see answered in Question Period.

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NDP call for PST on construction labour to be scrapped

The NDP is calling on the Sask. Party to scrap the PST on construction labour in the upcoming budget.

“The Sask. Party has stubbornly stuck to this damaging tax hike, meanwhile construction companies throughout the province are hurting from real consequences,” said NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon. “With so many jobs and contracts lost, the right move for the province’s economy would be to scrap this tax hike in the upcoming budget.”

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NDP welcomes auditor investigation into eHealth’s vendor-sponsored travel & related contracts

At today’s Public Accounts meeting, the Provincial Auditor indicated that she is investigating vendor-sponsored travel and related contracts at eHealth and will report on her findings in June. The Provincial Auditor shared this after NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat tabled a motion calling on the Provincial Auditor to fully examine vendor-sponsored travel at eHealth.

Sask. Party MLAs defeated the motion, which would have ensured not just an auditor investigation, but a special report, as was conducted for the Global Transportation Hub in 2016.

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Too many kids relying on food banks this Family Day

Last week, Food Banks Canada released their 2018 report, which found Saskatchewan has the highest proportion of children relying on food banks in the country. According to the report, 43.5 per cent of individuals served by food banks in Saskatchewan were children, higher than the Canadian average of 35.2 per cent. Although a recent change in how food bank usage is measured makes quantifying recent shifts in usage difficult, previous reports show that food bank use in Saskatchewan grew 76.9 per cent between 2008 and 2016. Last week, the Estevan Food Bank reported a 40 per cent increase in usage over a year ago.

“No child should be going to school or to bed hungry, but that’s the reality facing far too many Saskatchewan families,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “The poverty underlying food bank usage hurts children and costs our provincial economy billions each year in increased health, social services and justice costs.

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Brandt build in Wascana should not go ahead, says NDP

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the Saskatchewan Government, through its now-majority vote on the Provincial Capital Commission, to reject the proposed Brandt build in Wascana Park in light of the failure to follow due process, the leaked expert objections, and, most recently, yesterday’s late-afternoon release of the wide-open list of permitted tenants for the proposed four-storey office building.

The list, which had previously been redacted from an NDP Freedom-of-Information request, goes against the principles that have governed Wascana Park for decades by opening the park to commercial office clients, and potentially to retail stores. In addition to the five permitted types of tenants allowed for under the Wascana Centre Authority Act plus the CNIB, the Brandt lease opens the door to “Tenants whose purpose is not inconsistent with the permitted tenants in paragraphs 1 to 6 above, including but not limited to general office tenants,” as well as “Tenants whose purpose is the provision of amenities and services.”

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