Today, NDP Leader and Critic for First Nations and Métis Relations Ryan Meili, joined by the MLA for Athabasca Buckley Belanger and Northern Affairs Critic Doyle Vermette, pressed the province to take urgent action to stop the COVID-19 outbreak in La Loche and Patuanak, and provide emergency funding support for Northern municipalities.
“The province needs to step up with real, tangible support for Northern communities to address this outbreak,” said Meili. “If they’re truly hearing the frustration the mayors of these communities are voicing and the measures they are calling for, they would be doing more. What little they’ve done so far isn’t enough – Northern leaders need to be actively involved in developing and implementing our province’s COVID-19 response.”
Frontline organizations have repeatedly raised the alarm over a critical lack of provincial funding. In response, NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on the province to provide $3 million in emergency funding: $1.5 million for organizations running frontline emergency shelters, and $1.5 million in emergency funding for Saskatchewan food banks.
“If they won’t step up because it’s the right thing, they should at least do it because it’s the smart thing,” said Meili. “The best way to stop this virus from spreading is to stop the most vulnerable from getting it. That means ensuring everyone has enough food and somewhere safe to self-isolate.
Today, in response to the provincial government’s decision to authorize $4,568,663,000 of public spending through a special warrant, NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon called on the provincial government to recall the legislature and present a budget to fully respond to COVID-19.
“This is a massive amount of money, but the government’s special warrant provides no clarity at all when it comes to how this money is to be spent,” said Wotherspoon. “How much of this is for new COVID-19 spending? Where is it going? People deserve answers to these questions, and those answers should be provided in the Legislative Assembly.”
As Saskatchewan prepares to mark the National Day of Mourning to remember workers injured or killed on the job, NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling for more support for frontline workers facing significant risk during this pandemic. Specifically, Meili is asking the province to introduce a pandemic pay top-up to give low-income essential workers a much-deserved raise, and to provide presumptive Workers’ Compensation Board coverage for workers who fall ill with COVID-19.
“We see the hearts in windows thanking frontline workers for stepping up, now we need the government to step up for those workers,” said Meili. “With the lowest minimum wage in the country, many Saskatchewan workers are earning less than they could receive with federal benefits. That isn’t right and it isn’t fair. Long-term care aides, hospital cleaning staff, delivery drivers – they’re all putting in long hours in stressful circumstances, and they all deserve fair compensation for the extra work and risk they’re taking on.”
In response to northern travel ban, NDP repeats call for immediate support for northern municipalities
In response to the Premier’s announcement banning non-critical travel to northern Saskatchewan because of a local outbreak of COVID-19, NDP Leader Ryan Meili said it’s now urgent for the Premier to work more closely with northern leaders to ensure clear protocols and protections for stopping the spread of COVID-19, and step up and provide direct financial assistance for northern communities, as the Opposition has been calling for.
NDP Leader Ryan Meili raised serious questions today about the Sask. Party’s plan to open the economy, and called on the government to restore democratic oversight by reconvening the Legislature in some form, to ensure the best possible management of the pandemic.
“It is one thing to release a plan on opening businesses, but the people who operate and work at those businesses need a plan that works for them,” said Meili. “Those workers are also parents, but the government’s plan says nothing about how we’ll manage child care through a reopening. The government’s failure to announce a plan to support parents and small businesses as workplaces begin to open again is exactly why we need time and space to ask the government these questions.”