Today, NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon rejected the government’s first-quarter report as a “grossly inadequate” smokescreen and committed to new measures to improve financial transparency.
“This is the standard Sask. Party playbook: rosy numbers just before an election, and then deep cuts and Crown sell-offs after,” said Wotherspoon. “These numbers should have been presented as a part of the budget, and because they weren’t, we are not able to demand answers about the Sask. Party’s plans for austerity. They also haven’t been checked by the Auditor, who is responsible for externally reviewing these numbers. Especially with so many people out of work and looking for their government to invest in their wellbeing and create jobs, this update falls far short of what Saskatchewan people expect and deserve.”
Wotherspoon emphasized that today’s Sask. Party public relations exercise only strengthened the NDP’s case for recalling the Legislature in September to provide oversight. He committed that an NDP government would improve transparency for the province’s finances.
“We need to legislate minimum transparency standards that would force future governments to provide four years of fiscal projections in every budget. As well, we need to make sure that no government will ever be able to do what the Sask. Party did in the lead up to the last campaign and is trying to do now: mislead the public about the state of our finances just before an election, only to deliver deep cuts and sell-offs afterwards.
“We will legislate a requirement that the independent Provincial Auditor sign off on a report showing the true state of our finances in the lead-up to each election, so that, contrary to the Sask. Party playbook, Saskatchewan people can have the full picture before they decide who they are going to trust with leading our province.”
Quebec and Ontario both have such legislation, requiring the provincial auditor to publish a pre-election report on the fiscal and economic projections of the government in the lead-up to a provincial election.