With Saskatchewan food banks experiencing a steep drop-off in food donations and a spike in usage of up to 40 to 50 percent in some communities in the wake of COVID-19, NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on the province to match federal support with $1.5 million in emergency funding, and to encourage Saskatchewan people to support their local food banks with food or cash donations if possible.
“Families are under incredible stress right now,” said Meili. “Half of Saskatchewan households were living paycheque to paycheque before this crisis hit, and now many of them are having to turn to food banks to feed their families. We need to make sure no family goes hungry as the province faces COVID-19.
Saskatchewan has been fortunate to see decreased numbers of new cases of COVID-19 in recent days. A number of factors, including public willingness to cooperate with the necessary measures, have contributed to our province’s success. For that success to continue, NDP Leader Ryan Meili is emphasizing that we need clear and consistent messaging from provincial leaders on the continued need for physical distancing measures.
“What we have done so far is working,” Meili said. “But it’s too early to say that it has worked. We’ve bought ourselves time that has saved lives and will save more lives if we’re careful. It is too soon to consider relaxing these measures.”
Saskatchewan NDP calls for cohorting of long-term care staff for protection of seniors and healthcare workers
To protect seniors and workers, the Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the province to ensure staff work in only one facility in long-term care and group homes.
“People are understandably very concerned about what an outbreak of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan long-term care homes could mean and are asking the province to do more to protect Saskatchewan seniors,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “Federal guidelines recommend ‘cohorting,’ or grouping staff by ward or facility. Other provinces have already taken this step, and it’s time for Saskatchewan to step up and do the same.'
Today, NDP Leader Ryan Meili called on the province to employ local workers at the Golden South Wind project in Assiniboia, where workers are currently slated to be flown in from other parts of the country. Meili also repeated his call for a Sask First procurement model to put local workers first in Saskatchewan projects.
“People in Saskatchewan are out of work right now. Why would we bring workers in from out of province, risking the spread of COVID-19, when we can get local workers on the job right away?” said Meili. “When our Crowns build our power plants, they should build them with our companies and our workers. That’s even more urgent today.”
With thousands of Saskatchewan people facing financial challenges because of the economic impacts of COVID-19, NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon is calling on the banks to cut credit card interest rates, and on the provincial government to protect families from predatory lending.
“People in our province were already stretched before COVID-19 hit, with half of Saskatchewan families living paycheque to paycheque. Now, with mounting job losses and layoffs, many families are at a breaking point,” said Wotherspoon. “We need to act now, before more families get trapped by massive credit card bills and gouged by predatory lenders during this vulnerable time.”
We heard some stark numbers today. Every person in Saskatchewan is now doing the math in their head, thinking about the health of their loved ones. I’m doing that same math right now, thinking about my friends, my parents and so many of my colleagues working in healthcare.
But as a province, we don’t have to take these numbers lying down. We can work together, stay home and reduce the toll that COVID-19 will take on the people of our province.