REGINA - NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon and the Critic for the Economy and Jobs Aleana Young responded today to the government’s Mid-Year Report, raising serious concerns that the government is failing businesses and working families, while not investing in the immediate needs of the health care system.
“In the last election campaign Scott Moe told the people of Saskatchewan we were out of the woods - that we had fought the pandemic and it was behind us,” said Wotherspoon. “Today we see our health care system pushed past the limit in a second wave of Covid-19 that Scott Moe refused to acknowledge was coming. Now is the time for real action – and real investment – to protect jobs, businesses and our communities.”
Despite sustained triple-digit increases in case numbers, outbreaks in dozens of care homes and schools and our intensive care units already over capacity, the Mid-Year Report contained no announcement of new investments needed to fight and support people through the second wave. Meanwhile, the Sask. Party government is sitting on $160 million of the province’s $200 million contingency which is currently unspent. The Mid-Year Report even added a new $100 million in contingency funding, for a total of $260 million. The Sask. Party government has also revealed that they have not fully deployed all of the $440 million in federal funding for additional and new measures to fight this pandemic.
“This is a missed opportunity, one with deadly consequences. The government has refused to consider a circuit breaker, but what we have now is the worst of both worlds. Businesses are being told to stay open while their customers are being urged to stay home - it’s a recipe for economic disaster,” said Young. “Instead of sitting on federal dollars and forcing people and small businesses to struggle through this crisis on their own, the Sask. Party needs to increase supports now to ensure that we don’t see any more businesses closed or working people get left behind.”
The Official Opposition will continue to push for common-sense actions to help protect families and businesses, including:
- Establishing multi-sectoral task force to tackle the spread of COVID-19, to be comprised of municipal and Indigenous leaders, health care professionals, educational professionals, representatives from business and labour, community-based organizations and the Official Opposition
- Supports for businesses to keep their employees on the payroll and emergency supports for workers who still find themselves temporarily out of work
- Fix the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment Program to make it more accessible and to ensure that dollars flow to small businesses facing serious challenges now
- Deploy funding from the government’s Covid-19 contingency fund to staff up in Long Term Care, as well as in Home Care to help keep more seniors safely at home
- Fund classrooms to reduce class sizes and ensure that schools are safe for our kids and educators and provide an accounting of where Covid-19 funding has been dispersed to date