The NDP wrapped up a successful fall session bringing the fight to the Sask. Party for their cuts to education, the deteriorating health outcomes and crisis in mental health and addictions, and their mismanagement of the economy as a whole and in particular their costly and failed megaprojects. While raising the concerns of people from throughout Saskatchewan in the Legislature, the NDP also proposed several ideas that would help better the lives of all people.
“Our caucus team has worked incredibly hard this session to hold this government to account for its damaging choices, while putting forward the good policy ideas that can make a positive difference in people’s lives,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili.
“We know that Moe and company’s cuts and underfunding of the things that matter have hurt people and hurt our long-term prosperity, and we as New Democrats will continue working to hold them to account and renew Saskatchewan with good jobs, good public education and smart social investments.”
The mid-year update showed that people are continuing to fall through the cracks because of cuts to services and an increase in social services caseloads. The Sask. Party’s PST hike on restaurant meals, construction labour and used car sales has continued to hurt the province’s economy, a point punctuated today by the news that 14,000 construction jobs have been lost in the past three years.
The Sask. Party government has wasted millions of public dollars on the Global Transportation Hub and Regina Bypass projects, but consistently refused to explain their mismanagement and lack of transparency or launch a judicial inquiry.
The Premier has struggled to decide whether it was right to have public employees taking trips paid for by companies seeking contracts with Crowns, government ministries and agencies, and wouldn’t commit to releasing a full list of such travel. Although it became apparent that these junket-for-contract practices were happening at eHealth, the Minister has so far refused to share any details with the public about how extensive this practice is. As a result, the NDP Caucus has asked the RCMP to investigate, and that process is underway.
“The pattern that emerged from the Sask. Party this session was that if something isn’t criminal, then the people of the province need not worry, and that we shouldn’t ask questions about it,” Meili said. “‘Not criminal in nature’ should not be the standard for good government in our province.”
Each week of session the NDP was joined by families who brought difficult stories forward about loved ones with addictions who have struggled to access proper treatment. These family members’ calls for action on the opioid and crystal meth crises have so far met with no provincial action.
“We know that people are hurting, and that the supports available aren’t sufficient. We’ve done our best to elevate the concerns raised by the brave family members who have come forward this session seeking answers from this government,” Meili said.
The NDP introduced bills calling for paid leave for survivors of domestic violence, the development of a suicide prevention strategy, the minimum wage to go from the second lowest in the country to $15 per hour over the next few years, and the closure of a loophole that would deny two Saskatchewan constituencies representation for over a year.
“Overall, this has been a positive session,” Meili said. “There is still a lot of work to do seeking answers and action about the concerns we hear each day from the people of this province. Today we return to our communities committed to sharing the work we’ve been doing in the Legislature and hearing the concerns that we will return to raise when the Assembly sits again next spring.”