With the provincial case count up over fifty percent over the weekend showing community transmission is becoming more widespread, NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on the province to act aggressively to get ahead of the spread of COVID-19 by expanding testing and tracing in the province.
“We can and must act quickly and aggressively to get ahead of the spread of COVID-19,” said Meili. “Now is not the time to let up -- we should be testing everyone who has the symptoms and rapidly scaling up contact tracing to contain the spread of the virus.”
Meili also called on the provincial government to scale-up communication with the public regarding the measures required by launching an aggressive public advocacy campaign.
“People are anxious and trying hard to protect their families and their communities right now,” said Meili. “But in order for them to be taking the right steps, they need clear, up-to-date information from government.”
With community transmission now confirmed in Saskatchewan, NDP Leader Ryan Meili is calling on the province to put an immediate moratorium on evictions in Saskatchewan to ensure that no one loses their home.
“No one should lose their home because of COVID-19 — full stop,” said Meili. “People are stressed, people are scared and everyone needs to be staying at home as much as they possibly can. If we're asking people to stay home, they need to have a home. I’m calling on the Premier today to make that commitment.”
In addition to a ban on evictions, the Saskatchewan NDP urged the Minister of Social Services to quickly develop and implement a plan to assist low-income, vulnerable and people experiencing homelessness, including providing safe housing for people accessing shelters.
“We know other provinces have already taken steps to protect people from evictions” said NDP Social Services critic Nicole Rancourt. “At this time, we need to do everything in our power to ensure people do not become homeless as a result of COVID-19, and provide additional funding to ensure we can provide safe services to those who are struggling.”
Today NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon called on the provincial government to rapidly expand support for small businesses and self-employed individuals affected by COVID-19 to assist them in doing what’s necessary to limit the spread.
“Small businesses are the heart of our communities and key drivers of our economy. These local leaders are faced with incredible hardship with this unprecedented situation,” said Wotherspoon. “We need to urgently act to support entrepreneurs and local businesses to ensure that they and their employees can get through this terribly difficult time and so that they are in a position to rebuild when we come through this, not permanently shuttered.”
Specifically, Wotherspoon called for the government to immediately implement the following:
Introduce grants and interest-free loans to small businesses to help them deal with serious cash flow issues because of devastated revenues;
Introduce changes to the regulation of business leases and mortgages, to allow lease and mortgage payments to be temporarily deferred for up to six months;
Introduce temporary new protections for small businesses to allow for deferred payments on equipment, vehicle, and other term contracts for up to six months;
Expand the support announced yesterday for self-employed people, including those in the creative and cultural economy such as performers, artists, photographers and musicians, by broadening the eligibility beyond those required to self-isolate to include those who have lost their income because their contracts and clients have cancelled.
Wotherspoon was joined by Regina small business owners Nicolette and Nicole Hunter, who particularly want to see action from the government to relax lease and mortgage obligations for small businesses.
“As business owners we are being asked by our landlords to go on as ‘business as usual’ when it's anything but business as usual,” said Nicolette Hunter. “All businesses want to help keep COVID-19 infections at a manageable level so that front-line healthcare workers are not overwhelmed. We can only do our part by minimizing hours, minimizing interactions with social distancing and staying home, but that means we are losing revenue.
“That’s why we are calling for a plan to reduce our overhead, including payments to landlords, so that when we all come out of the thick of this, businesses are able to pick up where they left off without further harming Saskatchewan's economy.”
Wotherspoon welcomed the government’s announcement yesterday that a business response unit would be established, as well as the ability to defer utilities and some remittances to government. These were measures that he along with local businesses had been calling for.
The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the government to make clear their plan for child care closures, and how child care workers will receive financial support as centres close.
“Many other provinces have already moved to close child care centres,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “Today, we are calling on the province to work with leaders in the sector to put forward a clear plan to close child care centres in Saskatchewan, and to provide a plan for how to ensure that people working on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19 are able to access safe child care.”
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.”
The Saskatchewan New Democratic Party is implementing a social distancing policy and is taking a number of measures in light of a pandemic being declared on COVID-19.
All Saskatchewan NDP public gatherings scheduled to take place in the next 30 days are postponed (this includes nomination meetings and fundraising events). For the time being, any large meetings of bodies of the Saskatchewan NDP will be conducted using telecommunications rather than meeting in person.
In addition, the party is taking steps to minimize health risks within our own places of work. We will be working with our employees to make sure our practices and protocols reflect the recommendations to provide self-care and mitigate risks.
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-844-525-1322
With an election year upon us, we think it’s a good time to review our commitments to form a strong progressive government in Saskatchewan!
RESOLUTION #12: ELECT DIVERSE VOICES
Women make up more than half of Saskatchewan’s population, but only 26% of our elected officials. Indigenous people make up 16% of our population, but only 6.5% of our elected officials. 2020 is the year where we elect more women and Indigenous representatives.
RESOLUTION #11: GTH JUDICIAL INQUIRY
It’s time to finally hold a judicial inquiry into the Global Transportation Hub. This project cost the people of the province and Sask. Party insiders walked away with millions. The Sask. Party’s well-connected buddies made millions from this scheme, so it’s no wonder they don’t want to get to the bottom of what happened.
New Democrats will finally get to the bottom of what really happened at the GTH.
RESOLUTION #10: A SUICIDE PREVENTION STRATEGY
Saskatchewan has the highest suicide rates in the country. The NDP has introduced a Suicide Prevention Act bill, and will act quickly to get ahead of this ongoing tragedy when elected. People struggling with mental health should be able to get the help they need, when they need it.
Add your name to the call for a suicide prevention strategy here: https://www.saskndp.ca/suicideprevention
RESOLUTION #09: GET BIG MONEY OUT OF POLITICS
The Sask Party has let us down with the most lax campaign donations laws in the country, allowing out-of-province money to influence our politics. We need comprehensive campaign finance reform that ensures that government will put people - not corporate donors - first.
Add your name to the call for getting big money out of politics: https://www.saskndp.ca/endbigmoney
RESOLUTION #08: BRING BACK OUR FILM INDUSTRY
We’re continuing our Resolutions countdown with an issue that many prairie creatives care about.
Let’s get filmmakers, actors, and film industry professionals back to work by creating local opportunity. We can bring back our province’s film industry and build our economy by investing in a new Saskatchewan Film Tax Credit.
RESOLUTION #07: RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE
No one who works full-time should live in poverty. A $15 minimum wage is good for communities, and contributes to a healthy economy that keeps people working and works for people.
Add your name to the call for a $15 minimum wage: www.saskndp.ca/minimumwage
RESOLUTION #06: CREATE JOBS
The Sask Party has funneled our tax dollars to big out-of-province and out-of-country companies when they could be investing locally. When we build our schools, our hospitals, and our roads, we should hire Saskatchewan companies and workers — with a Sask-First Procurement Policy.
RESOLUTION #05: PROTECT OUR CROWNS
Crown Corporations ensure that Saskatchewan people can access quality, affordable services, and provide revenue for important pillars like education and healthcare. Unlike those other guys, we commit to protecting our Crowns from privatization, ensuring they innovate and are strong for the next generation.
Add your name to support our Crowns: https://www.saskndp.ca/crowns
RESOLUTION #04: A NEW STC
The STC provided a crucial service to people across the province who needed it for traveling to work, accessing medical services, and for businesses shipping important packages. We’re committed to building a new and innovative STC to provide a vital service to seniors, rural people, and families throughout the province.
Sign if you agree: https://www.saskndp.ca/bringbackstc
RESOLUTION #03: RENEW SASKATCHEWAN
Saskatchewan is the sunniest province in Canada, and we have endless opportunities in wind, biomass, and geothermal. Our plan to Renew Saskatchewan will lower your bills, create thousands of jobs, and make our province a leader in the renewable energy sector.
Add your name to the call to Renew today: https://www.saskndp.ca/renewsaskatchewan
RESOLUTION #02: CAP CLASS SIZES
When elected, the NDP has committed to ensuring a maximum of 24 students for K-3 classrooms, to ensure every child gets a chance to succeed. It’s time for a government that invests in quality education from early childhood on, to give our kids the best chance for success.
Add your voice to the call to end overcrowded classrooms: https://www.saskndp.ca/endovercrowding
RESOLUTION #01: END HALLWAY MEDICINE
In 2019, patients told us they were stuck in hallways for days, unsure if they would get the care they need. Health care should be there when we need it, with better prevention, treatment and results. It’s time to end emergency room wait times and hallway medicine, and invest in primary care, mental health, staffing, and prevention.
Add your voice to the call for action: https://www.saskndp.ca/erwaittimes
For immediate release: January 16, 2020
The Sask. Party is continuing to let down the most vulnerable in the province, with the University of Regina’s Child and Family Poverty in Saskatchewan: 2019 Report showing that one in four Saskatchewan kids is living in poverty.
“Far too many kids in this province are being let down by their government,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “No child in this province should go to school hungry, but the Sask. Party keeps dragging their feet on reducing child poverty, with devastating consequences for so many kids.”
Meili noted that Saskatchewan remains the only Canadian province without an anti-poverty strategy, and that poverty costs Saskatchewan nearly $4 billion per year in decreased opportunity and increased spending on healthcare, social services and justice. The problem, he says, is exacerbated by an economy slowed and struggling under the weight of bad Sask. Party decisions.
“There is so much we could be doing to get ahead of this problem,” Meili said. “We could start by raising our lowest-in-the-country minimum wage, ensuring that no one working full time has to stop at the foodbank on the way home and putting more money into local businesses.”
According to the U of R report, Saskatchewan has both the third highest rate of child poverty in Canada and the lowest percent reduction in the number of children in poverty as a result of government transfers. The province has also seen the smallest decrease in child poverty rate at 0.7%.
“Landlords, frontline workers and families have raised the alarm about the Sask. Party’s harmful changes to the income assistance program, and I’ve heard from many people who are falling through the cracks because of it,” said NDP Social Services Critic Nicole Rancourt. “If we want to address the heartbreaking numbers of children living in poverty, we need to ensure that families facing poverty have access to the support they need, and that includes fixing the Sask. Party’s unfair changes to income assistance.”
The Sask. Party recently sent a flyer to Regina voters bragging about “investing in Regina’s economy,” but the flyer made no mention of the Regina Bypass, their single biggest expense in 13 years of government.
Why didn’t they mention it? Doesn’t the Sask. Party want to claim responsibility for building the most expensive stretch of flat road in our nation’s history?