Official Opposition demands answers over Sunrise Motel price inflations

REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Ethics and Democracy Critic Meara Conway pressed the Moe government for answers after the Sunrise Motel, which is owned by Sask. Party MLA Gary Grewal, appears to have massively inflated the rates of motel stays for Ministry of Social Services recipients.

“This leaves a lot of questions,” said Conway. “How is this a good way of spending public dollars? And why is a business owned by a government MLA allowed to profit off of increasing rates 51%? The people of Saskatchewan deserve answers.”

“At minimum, this raises real concerns around ethics and transparency within this Sask. Party government. At worst, we’re looking at Sask. Party MLAs using their influence within government to benefit their private businesses.”

On October 27, 2023, senior Evelyn Harper was evicted from her government housing unit. With nowhere to go, she found a room at the Sunrise Motel at a rate of $132.09 a night.

Ms. Harper’s situation was brought to the attention of the Minister of Social Services, Gene Makowsky. Makowsky committed to covering Ms. Harper’s motel costs starting on October 29, 2023. 

Once the Ministry of Social Services started footing the bill for her room, the price increased dramatically. 

Leaked Ministry of Social Services requisition forms show that, from October 29 to November 1, the price of Ms. Harper’s room shot up to $168.55 a night (see complete requisition forms here - October 29 to November 1).

The price then increased a second time, and for the next two nights taxpayers were billed $200.00 a night, a 51.4% increase from the original price (see complete requisition forms here - November 1 to 3).

Ms. Harper stayed at the Sunrise Motel until she found an alternative housing arrangement on November 10, 2023. A ministry requisition receipt shows that provincial taxpayers were also charged $200.00 a night for this final night.

Though the price of a room at the Sunrise Motel can vary, the average cost when booked online is $71.00 to $80.00 per night. When asked over the phone, the front desk quoted the Opposition $89.00 to $99.00 per night, depending on whether the room has one or two beds.

Ms. Harper never changed rooms during her stay and did not benefit from any special treatment or services from Sunrise staff. 

An ISC land title confirms that the Sunrise Motel is owned by Grewal Hospitality Inc., which is owned by Sask. Party MLA Gary Grewal, according to Grewal Hospitality’s corporate entity report. MLA Grewal’s public MLA disclosure forms list Grewal Hospitality Inc. as a source of income and an asset. 

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