NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on the provincial government to act quickly to respond to the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the supports are in place to protect Saskatchewan people.
“As things change so quickly, we need to have a government that’s responding quickly as well,” said Meili. “The time to act is now.”
Specifically, Meili called on the Sask. Party government to postpone the budget and act quickly to develop a plan that responds to the current crisis; to “get social distancing right” by banning public gatherings of more than 50 people, including suspending the Legislative session; and to put forward a financial aid package for affected workers and businesses.
Meili specifically called for a financial aid package consisting of:
support payments for low and middle-income families to keep people whole and money circulating in the local economy — including support for people who can’t access childcare as a result of school closures;
wage subsidies for Saskatchewan businesses to keep workers employed, with focus on small and medium-sized companies and response to regional and industry-specific needs;
injection of the necessary dollars into our healthcare system, proportionate to the challenge before us;
guaranteed sick leave supports for workers needing to self-isolate;
utility and rent guarantees so that no one goes without power, heat, phone or a safe place to stay;
tax changes to reduce the financial pressure businesses are facing in the short term.
Beyond the immediate needs, Meili also called on the Saskatchewan government to begin immediate work on a post-pandemic economic stimulus plan, including a major investment in infrastructure so that our hospitals, schools, roads, and energy infrastructure are built by Saskatchewan workers and Saskatchewan companies.
“Let’s invest in Saskatchewan people today,” Meili said. “If we act quickly on the measures for social isolation, the measures for readiness in our health system, and a financial aid package that really meets the needs of Saskatchewan people today, we can get ahead of the curve. We can reduce the negative health and economic impacts on the population. And we can make Saskatchewan what it should be: a good-news story of a province that tackled this the right way and took care of people first.”