The summer Legislative session that almost wasn’t wrapped today. Throughout the three-week session the NDP pushed the government to put people first in education, long-term care and economic recovery planning, and rejected the Sask. Party’s incomplete and inadequate budget document as a pre-election ploy designed to distract from their plans for cuts and sell-offs.
“Saskatchewan people, who have sacrificed so much in recent months, face a clear choice between a tired government that won’t be honest about their plans for cuts and sell-offs, and an NDP opposition committed to investing in people,” Meili said. “The Premier didn’t want to present a budget or face us in the Legislature. We gave the Premier a chance to present a budget and a recovery plan. He hid instead behind a cut-and-paste budget from before the pandemic that added no new funding for education or healthcare, childcare or seniors’ care.”
The issues championed by the NDP included a complete and fully funded plan for teachers and students to safely return to classrooms in the fall, investments in healthcare and long-term care, and the need for the government to release standard economic forecasts, which were noticeably absent in the budget.
Cumberland MLA Doyle Vermette presented a bill to develop a suicide prevention strategy, but it was voted down by Sask. Party members – making it the first bill of its kind to be voted down by any jurisdiction in Canada.
“With no new spending in healthcare since before the pandemic, this budget completely failed the people of Saskatchewan,” said NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat. “In the few weeks of session alone, we heard countless stories about people facing long waits for surgeries or struggling in long-term care, while the toll of our failure to address the mental health and addictions crisis continues to grow.”
The NDP welcomed the only new item in the budget — additional spending on infrastructure — as a much-needed infusion that barely begins to address the infrastructure deficit, but slammed the Sask. Party’s refusal to put Saskatchewan companies and workers first in awarding those contracts.
“With so many people stretched and struggling, many of them out of work or at risk of losing their job, it’s so important that we kickstart the economy by putting Saskatchewan people and companies first,” said NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon. “People were looking to the government for a recovery plan, but this totally inadequate budget isn’t that. Instead of getting Saskatchewan people back to work, they’re simply waving the white flag about leaving us mired in a recession.”
Students and teachers were let down by the budget with no new spending announced and a vague and incomplete reopening plan despite having added pressures and uncertainty from COVID-19.
“The people of Saskatchewan expected and deserved a plan from the government to return safely to schools in the fall,” said NDP Education Carla Beck. “What they got was more uncertainty. With the school year around the corner, teachers and parents are no closer to knowing how to deal with overcrowded classrooms with fewer resources and less assistance in the class.”
“It’s clear that the people of Saskatchewan have been left with a choice – whether they want a government that will put people first or one that will continue to let people down,” Meili said.