The Sask. Party has quietly eliminated all funding for the Saskatchewan Organization of Heritage Languages (SOHL) – a slash the NDP says is cold, short-sighted, and another troubling indication that deep cuts are in the works.
Now, NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon is demanding the Sask. Party release a full list of their cuts, and a transparent account of what they plan to cut next.
“From what we’ve seen, their cuts are aimed at everyday families, and are incredibly short-sighted,” said Wotherspoon. “This is an organization that delivers incredible cultural and economic value. The NDP would reinstate this organization’s funding, without a doubt.”
For 25 years, SOHL has been funded through about $225,000 in annual funding from the Ministry of Education to deliver 80 language schools. The programs operate out of space in schools using a strong contingent of volunteer support. The organization said the funding cut puts all the schools at risk of closure.
“These schools do incredible work, and it’s absolutely shameful that the Sask. Party’s priorities are so backwards that important language education has gotten the axe, while the Sask. Party loudly fights back against Cam Broten’s plan to shut down this government's waste. It’s disgusting – they fight to keep their taxpayer-funded personal airplanes, but axe language education for our families and children. These days, it really does seem like the Sask. Party is in it for themselves.”
Monday’s financial update revealed that the Sask. Party has cut more than $50 million from education since March.
“What else are our kids and communities losing as a result of that $50-million cut?” Wotherspoon asked. “Language is incredibly important to Saskatchewan’s multiculturalism, and if this is where Brad Wall makes cuts, families are worried about what else they’ll cut if we give them a chance.”
Word of several other cuts has leaked out, including 150 health care staff cuts in Regina, about 200 health care jobs being left intentionally vacant in Prince Albert, and more health care job cuts being planned in Saskatoon, according to the then-CEO. Post-secondary education was also cut, with $12 million in funding and scholarships clawed back by the Sask. Party. The Sask. Party has also slashed funding to homeless shelters.
The Sask. Party’s finance minister said deficit, higher taxes and draconian cuts are on the table if the Sask. Party tables another budget – and Wotherspoon said families are worried that the cuts they know about so far might be just the beginning.