Government’s throne speech largely ignores people’s needs: NDP

Government’s agenda has very little for health care, education, cost of living, seniors, highways, flood prevention

The throne speech misses the mark, and shows the government is primarily working to benefit a select few while dismissing the things most Saskatchewan families want and need, according to the NDP.

The speech from the throne outlines the government’s agenda for the year. Wednesday, the government delivered a throne speech that didn’t discuss the need to address run-down, crowded hospitals; the rising cost of living that’s making it very hard to get ahead; and the lack of one-on-one attention for many children in classrooms throughout the province.

“The government’s agenda for the next year is quite disappointing for families,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “Saskatchewan people keep asking me how it is that this government keeps struggling to deliver adequate health care, seniors care and education and why it keeps forcing families to pay extra.

“That’s why I wanted to see a commitment to improve the backlogged, filthy and short-staffed hospitals. I wanted to see action on the cost of living. I wanted to see a plan to fix the seniors care crisis. Families deserve to benefit so much more from what’s going on in Saskatchewan, and for them, this throne speech offers very little.”

Prior to the throne speech, Broten and the NDP released a list of 25 must-haves, focused on spending smarter by reallocating dollars from pet projects like Lean directly into the things that matter to Saskatchewan families, like shorter wait times in emergency rooms.

While the NDP said it welcomes the government’s reversal on its poverty strategy position – one of the items Broten and the NDP have been pushing for over the last year – the other 24 demands went largely unmet by this government. That includes desperately needed initiatives like commitments to move toward smaller class sizes, reduce specialist wait times and fix the basics in hospitals and seniors care homes.

Instead, the government is doubling-down on its Lean pet project that has turned Saskatchewan into a cash cow for out-of-country consultants.

“This throne speech shows this government is increasingly looking out for a select few and largely neglecting what matters to everyone else,” said Broten. “And it’s only focused on trying to keep our GDP statistics positive. I absolutely want our economic stats to be strong, but politics can’t just be about making sure that the province is doing well – for me, politics is always about making sure people are doing well.”

The NDP also noted that:

  • Broten called for infrastructure to be built in the most responsible and transparent way. The government’s throne speech offers no new schools or infrastructure, but commits to use P3s. The NDP has previously raised serious concerns about the price, quality and time delays associated with P3s.

  • Broten continued to call for Lean to be scrapped. The controversial program costs in health care alone have included $40 million for one American consultant, $17 million per year for the Kaizen Promotion Offices, millions to send health care workers to the United States for Lean training and flying in Japanese senseis for $3,500 per day. In addition to the costs, the government’s own Health Quality Council statistics show patient care and safety is getting worse under Lean, and surveys show health care professionals, including doctors, believe it’s not improving health care. However, the government recommitted to Lean in Wednesday’s throne speech.

  • Broten reiterated his call for immediate action on the seniors care crisis including supports for seniors to live independently; a multi-year plan to increase spaces in seniors care homes; and a plan to address urgent front-line needs identified in seniors care, including staffing and equipment needs. In its throne speech, the government committed nothing at all to address the seniors care crisis.

  • Flooding is mentioned in the throne speech with absolutely no new plan to mitigate future flooding. Broten called for the immediate development of a comprehensive anti-flooding strategy.

  • The government’s throne speech offered nothing new on its problematic procurement policy. Broten has proposed and outlined the specifics of a much more sophisticated procurement policy that recognizes actual lowest cost instead of just lowest initial bid. Broten’s proposed policy would be more fair to Saskatchewan companies and lead to much more work for them, as opposed to government contracts continually going to out-of-province or out-of country companies — an issue the Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sector has said is its most pressing concern.

  • The NDP will review the details of the government’s proposed tax cut for Saskatchewan businesses when the government releases them. Broten noted Wednesday he believes this item – one of the few new things announced in the speech and promoted in advance by the premier – may not be reflective of the priorities of everyday Saskatchewan families and manufacturers, who have highlighted the need for better procurement policies and more skilled workers.

  • The throne speech has literally no mention of Saskatchewan’s north – a critical economic region, and a region in need of more opportunity for people.

  • The NDP supports amending the Health Information Protection Act to protect patients’ privacy.

  • The NDP supports the reintroduction of the Saskatchewan Infrastructure Growth Initiative (SIGI), and supports its expansion to First Nations. However, this loan support initiative is not a replacement for the dedicated infrastructure funding program the NDP and municipalities have been calling for.

  • The NDP supports progress on Adult Basic Education (ABE) seats and apprenticeship seats.

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All Saskatchewan New Democratic Party members in good standing will be eligible to vote online or by mail-in ballot.

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