Sask. NDP calls for Provincial Auditor investigation into hotel dealings

Evelyn Harper: MLA Grewal’s Sunrise Motel still hasn’t returned my damage deposit

REGINA - Today, the Official Opposition called on the Moe government to invite a Provincial Auditor investigation into the Ministry of Social Services’ policy on hotel stays. The Wall government previously invited such an investigation into the GTH land deals.

“This whole thing stinks and the people of Saskatchewan deserve answers,” said Ethics and Democracy Critic Meara Conway. “The Provincial Auditor is independent, trustworthy and accountable to this Assembly. She’s the perfect person to take a look at the books and examine whether taxpayers are being protected - or fleeced - under this government's watch.”

Questions surrounding the cost-effectiveness of the Ministry's policy have been raised in recent weeks after Sask. Party MLA Gary Grewal’s Sunrise Motel was found to have raised the nightly rate of senior Evelyn Harper’s room once the Moe government began footing her bill.

Calls for the Moe government to invite a Provincial Auditor investigation came from Ethics and Democracy Critic Meara Conway during question period. 

The Moe government did not immediately agree to an investigation. If it does, the Auditor will be empowered to probe the Ministry of Social Services’ policies and practices around putting up social services clients in hotels, a practice experts claim has become more widespread on account of the government’s income assistance and housing policies, as well as a lack of resources in the child welfare system. Minister Makowsky admitted that, from 2022 to 2023, the Moe government spent $172,000 on the Sunrise Motel, for a total of $2.25 million on hotel stays. 

The Premier stated earlier this week in a media scrum that the public could benefit from knowing more about the taxpayer-funded hotel stays.

“The Sask. Party cabinet has the ability to call in the Provincial Auditor today, request that she review all these policies and make sure hotel rates aren’t being inflated. The Sask. Party did this with the GTH land deals and they can easily do it again,” said Conway. “Sunlight - not Sunrise - is the best disinfectant.”

The Opposition was joined at the Legislature by senior Evelyn Harper. Ms. Harper stood with the Opposition in calling for an investigation. She also called on government MLAs to help her recover the damage deposit she paid out of pocket to the Sunrise Motel. 

Minister Makowsky previously stated that MLA Grewal owns the Sunrise Motel but is not involved in day-to-day operations. Sunrise Motel staff told Ms. Harper that they could not provide her with information about her stay because the receipts and requisition forms are “in California”. 

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Dear Moose Jaw Residents,

We hope this message finds you well. As a part of our ongoing commitment to listening to local voices and building made-in-Saskatchewan solutions, we are pleased to invite you to our upcoming Townhall Meeting in Moose Jaw on February 29 at the Timothy Eaton Centre from 7:00PM to 9:00PM.

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