Today, NDP Leader Ryan Meili announced changes to the critic portfolios in the Official Opposition. As the now critic for First Nations and Métis Relations and the newly created Truth and Reconciliation file, he is calling on the government to address the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“The findings of the MMIWG Commissioners paint a stark picture of the violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people in Canada. It’s important that we don’t just let this become another report that gathers dust on a shelf while the government makes excuses for not taking action,” Meili said. “We need to act on the recommendations to save lives and ensure safety for Indigenous women and girls in Saskatchewan, so that together we can build a brighter future for everyone.”
As a first step, Meili is calling on the government to take immediate steps to reverse recent cuts that have damaged relations with and made life more difficult for First Nations and Métis People and that were highlighted in the Inquiry’s findings:
- Reverse the cuts to the Aboriginal Court Worker Program (Recommendation 5.11),
- Restore the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (Recommendation 4.8),
- Stop fighting the transfer of custody to First Nations agencies in the courts (Recommendation 12.4.),
- Introduce compulsory training for legal professionals, court staff, police officers, and healthcare professionals on the history of colonization in Saskatchewan and the impact on Indigenous peoples today (Recommendations 7.6, 10.1),
- Expand and adequately resource legal aid programs in order to ensure that Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people have access to justice and meaningful participation in the justice system (Recommendation 5.13),
- Evaluate the impact of mandatory minimum sentences as it relates to the sentencing and over-incarceration of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people and to take appropriate action to address their over-incarceration (Recommendation 5.14).
Meili is also calling on the provincial government to strike a task force including First Nations and Métis leaders, women’s groups, civil service leaders and law enforcement agencies to consider the report in its entirety and inform the provincial government’s response.
As part of the critic shuffle, Nicole Sarauer will become the new Deputy Leader for the NDP Caucus. Carla Beck will serve as Caucus Chair and David Forbes will become Deputy Caucus Chair. Cathy Sproule will take on the role as House Leader with Vicki Mowat as the Deputy House Leader.
David Forbes will also be taking on the role of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety critic. Trent Wotherspoon is now the critic for Immigration.
“Working hard for the people of Saskatchewan remains our focus in the upcoming months,” Meili said. “All across the province, we’re hearing about the long waits in healthcare, the crowded and underfunded classrooms, and how the Sask. Party’s PST expansion is hurting the economy. We know we can do so much better and we’re committed to tackling these problems by putting people first.”