Makowsky’s office says more time needed for FOI, Minister promised answers 10 weeks ago
REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Ethics and Democracy Critic Meara Conway called for answers from Minister Gene Makowsky after his office refused to respond to two freedom of information requests about payments to an MLA-owned motel, even after the Minister promised answers months ago.
“Minister Makowsky promised answers months ago and still hasn’t delivered. All the evidence suggests that he’s running interference for a teammate possibly playing dirty,” said Conway. “Saskatchewan people work hard for their tax dollars. They deserve to know whether Sask. Party MLAs are using their influence within government to benefit the private businesses of politicians.”
The Sunrise Motel is owned by Sask. Party MLA Gary Grewal. In November, news broke that Grewal’s motel twice hiked rates for a woman staying there after Makowsky’s Ministry of Social Services offered to pick up the tab.
The Opposition submitted two freedom of information requests to Makowsky’s office on December 12. One asked for his Ministry’s policies on hotel stays. The other sought to clarify which hotels are used by his Ministry.
On the deadline set by law, Makowsky's office told the Opposition that they could not provide any records. They claimed that they did not have enough time to investigate, even though Makowsky promised answers to these questions months earlier.
Makowsky was asked to provide information about his policy 12 times during the last legislative sitting. He promised 5 times on the record to investigate and report back to the house. This promise was first made 71 days ago on November 15.
Makowsky also promised on November 15 to tell the house which hotels/motels his Ministry uses and detail how much money he has given to each.
“I just don’t buy that Makowsky needs more than ten weeks to figure out what his hotel pricing policy is or which hotels his ministry uses,” said Conway. “This is the type of information that many social workers use in their job daily. Much of this should be readily available.”
Opposition members posed a total of 46 questions about the Sunrise Motel scandal during the last legislative session. On 32 occasions, Makowsky responded by saying that he was “endeavouring” to get more answers or “looking at” or “looking into” the situation.
Makowsky partially answered one question when he admitted that his Ministry paid MLA Grewal’s motel $172,000 last year.
“This is the only speck of information we’ve received from Makowsky and it points to potential political interference,” said Conway. “If Makowsky has nothing to hide, he needs to stop running out the clock.”