The Provincial Auditor released volume one of its 2018 report today, and it shows the damaging effect that the Sask. Party’s cuts and clawbacks have had on Saskatchewan students with special needs as well as those dealing with mental health issues.
“We’re always grateful for the good work that the Auditor and her team does, but it’s disappointing to see in this report just how badly the Sask. Party is failing the most vulnerable people in our province,” said NDP Deputy Leader Carla Beck. “And this comes in light of the most recent budget from the Sask. Party, which saw a funding cut to the rental housing supplement and the failure to fully restore funding to school divisions.”
The report noted that in the Saskatoon Public School Division 7.3 per cent of K-8 students have intensive needs, but students aren’t receiving the supports they need. The Auditor found an example of a student who required an educational assistant but didn’t receive one because the school did not have enough educational assistant resources to support all the needs of the students in the school.
“The bottom line is when the Sask. Party doesn’t fully restore the $54 million cut it made in education, it meant that school divisions have to do more with less. It means fewer educational assistants and it means fewer resources to help students who have special needs get the attention they need,” said Beck, the NDP’s Education Critic.
People suffering from mental illness accessing timely health and addiction services in Prince Albert was also a topic panned by the Auditor. It showed that the demand for services outpaced the region’s capacity to deliver them, and people couldn’t access care in a timely way.
“The demand for these services is increasing, but spending by the Sask. Party and staffing remains flat,” Beck said. “It’s unacceptable that after a decade of record revenue, the Sask. Party has failed to address the issues around staffing and capacity in Prince Albert.”
The Auditor noted that around half the number of secure custody inmates are on remand waiting for trial, which puts a strain on the justice system and costs taxpayers more. Also, prisoners aren’t getting proper access to health care while incarcerated.
“It can be very costly to the public when prisoners don’t have access to proper medical or mental health treatment, so it’s important that the Sask. Party tighten up its policies to ensure public safety and prevent recidivism.”