Today the Sask. Party government voted down Bill No. 618 — The Saskatchewan Strategy for Suicide Prevention Act, which had been introduced by NDP Critic for Northern Affairs Doyle Vermette in November. 

“I’m at a loss,” said Vermette. “So many lives in our province, particularly in the North, have been devastated by the death of a loved one because of suicide. Many of those people joined us here in the Legislature to call on the government to act. How am I to explain to those families this government’s unwillingness to do what is so badly needed right now?”

Between 2005 and 2019, more than 2,200 people in Saskatchewan died by suicide. Vermette has twice introduced bills calling for the government to implement a suicide strategy, but this is the first time the NDP has been able to force the measure to a vote. Sask. Party members voted unanimously against the measure.

In May, the Sask. Party released a document purporting to be a suicide prevention strategy, with no additional funding attached, that advocates dismissed as “a travesty” that was wholly inadequate to save lives.

“With this cynical, partisan move, the Sask. Party has truly let down the families who have pushed for real action on this issue,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “You would think after the death of Samwel Uko - and the pain expressed by his family - that this government would recognize that now is the time to act. There’s no excuse for foot-dragging and inaction — it’s time for a government committed to improving mental health supports for Saskatchewan families.”