REGINA – Today, Leader of the NDP Official Opposition Ryan Meili and Official Opposition Critic for SaskPower Aleana Young called on the Sask. Party government to shelve their rebranding project and focus on helping families and businesses who missed payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So many families are struggling to make ends meet and the Sask. Party should be working with them to help them out, not trying to make an extra buck off them,” said Meili. “Instead of prioritizing making families whole after the last 18 months, Premier Moe and his government are looking to spend millions on a rebranding vanity project to paint the Crowns in Sask. Party colours. The people of Saskatchewan deserve better.”
From March to September 2020 the Crown Utility Payment Deferral Program allowed people to defer their SaskPower, SaskEnergy and SaskTel payments without penalty by enrolling in a program to repay the balance over a period of up to 12 months. Families and businesses are now learning that missed payments from September 2020 onward are not included - despite the much more deadly second and third waves of COVID-19 since that time - meaning families are facing high interest rates and service cutoffs at a very challenging time.
“This is not what our Crowns were designed to do. We shouldn’t be kicking people while they're down, we should be using the Crowns to drive our economic recovery and get people back on their feet,” said Young. “This government has shown time and time again that they’ll put their pet projects ahead of the interests of Saskatchewan people. They need to help people pay down their deferred payments, not actively make it harder.”
Meili and Young noted this is a pattern from this Sask. Party government, which also refuses to return excess earnings in SGI’s Auto Fund to Saskatchewan drivers through lower rates.
The Official Opposition is calling on the Sask. Party Government to immediately:
- Reopen the Crown deferral program and apply it to bills since September 2020
- Immediately stop charging interest on all deferred utility payments