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NDP joins advocates in calling for Hearing Aid Plan reinstatement

The impacts of the Sask. Party’s recent budgets are still hurting families throughout the province in many ways. For instance, many are now struggling with the consequences of the Sask. Party cut to the Hearing Aid Plan – a service that provided audiological evaluation, hearing aids and fittings, counselling and education.

“After years of blowing through record revenues, the Sask. Party panicked when the money ran out and started cutting in areas that would hurt the most vulnerable,” said NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat. “For over 40 years, this was a program that helped so many people and families throughout the province. It hasn’t taken long to see the damage that cutting it has done.”

Stephanie Schneck and her 9-year-old daughter Gracie are among the many who have borne the brunt of these Sask. Party cuts. Gracie needs $6,400 hearing aids, but her parents can't afford to pay for them and have been forced to hold fundraisers to provide her with the health services she needs. Stephanie is currently working three jobs just to make ends meet.

“The cut to the Hearing Aid Program continues to be a burden on me and my family in so many different ways,” Schneck said. “No family should have to go through this. The financial hardships are stressful, the long wait times are frustrating, and seeing Gracie not get the help she needs because of additional cuts in the classroom is heartbreaking.”

“The Sask. Party seems not to understand that cutting a program like this is not the way to improve health outcomes,” NDP Leader Ryan Meili said. “People like Stephanie are being forced to fundraise for things their kids can’t do without while the government is wasted millions at the GTH alone. This poor decision simply can not be justified, which is why we’re calling for the immediate reinstatement of the Hearing Aid Plan.”

 

Meili expresses frustration about lack of vision and lack of action in Throne Speech

The Speech from the Throne was filled with “old news and old noise” instead of concrete plans to create jobs, restore funding to schools, or work towards better health outcomes for Saskatchewan people, according to NDP Leader Ryan Meili. Meili was also looking for some admission of the damage done by recent government choices, whether it’s the PST hikes or the ongoing mishandling of the GTH but saw none.

“We were disappointed that we didn’t see any commitment to addressing the underfunding of education, a focus on addressing the province’s worst-in-the-nation health outcomes, or the reversal of the harmful expansion of the PST to construction and restaurant meals,” Meili said. “This was the Premier’s chance to make his mark on the province by addressing the real issues that people are struggling with, but he chose not to.”

Much of what was in the Throne Speech consisted of recycling old announcements.

“There was no mention of how to help people who are struggling to pay for their mortgages or how the unemployment rate is higher than it was last year,” Meili said. “There was hardly a mention of the North, nor was there an acknowledgement that one in four kids in our province and six out of every 10 First Nations kids live in poverty. How can we work to fix these problems if the Premier won’t even recognize them?”

Meili said he was happy to see some focus on income assistance and mental health but cautions that he will be holding the government to account to ensure they deliver on their promises, as all too often the Sask. Party talks about taking action but fails to deliver.

“This Throne Speech was more about bluster than building blocks,” Meili said. “Concrete ideas like the NDP’s Renew Saskatchewan or fixing the government’s procurement policies would help get people back to work and make the province stronger. Ignoring the realities that so many are facing, whether it’s related to their job or their children’s education, isn’t a vision that will work for the people of this province.”

NDP Leader Ryan Meili enters fall session with a call to action

After months of outreach across Saskatchewan, a successful by-election, a critic shuffle that presented the province with an NDP government-in-waiting, and an energized and enthusiastic fall convention, Ryan Meili and the NDP are heading into the fall sitting of the Legislature calling for action to secure jobs for Saskatchewan people, improve our province’s health outcomes, and restore funding to our schools.

“In community after community, we’ve seen the consequences of the choices that Moe and the Sask. Party,” Meili said. “He’s spent his time in office pointing fingers and sowing division, but the people of Saskatchewan are still waiting for answers to some very basic questions:

  • Will Moe reverse the harmful expansion of the PST to construction and restaurant meals that has further damaged an already-struggling economy?
  • Will he restore the funding cut from our kids’ classrooms?
  • What is his government doing to address our province’s worst-in-the-nation health outcomes?
  • And, after ten years of boom times, will he be honest about where the money went that could and should pay for these essential services?”

With a focus on health outcomes, support for education, the job losses in our struggling economy, and getting to the bottom of the GTH and other scandals, Meili’s NDP are setting an agenda that speaks to the real needs and concerns of Saskatchewan people.

Meili says he’s entering the fall session with the voices and faces of Saskatchewan people foremost in his mind and will be doing all he can to ensure that their concerns are heard. “I want the Premier to know that Saskatchewan people are watching. As the Official Opposition, we’ll be working hard to raise their concerns. People across the province deserve better answers than they’ve been getting.”

Meili slams Moe for failure to develop made-in-Sask climate change plan

Following the Federal Government’s announcement this morning that Saskatchewan residents would see a direct rebate of the money raised by their tax on pollution, Ryan Meili slammed Scott Moe’s Sask. Party government for surrendering the initiative to the federal government and leaving Saskatchewan without a plan designed by and for Saskatchewan people.

“Scott Moe has once again come up empty in providing Saskatchewan with sound economic and environmental leadership,” Meili said. “He’s spent the last year pointing fingers and railing against a flawed federal approach, but he’s shown no initiative and no leadership in putting forward a plan that works for Saskatchewan people.

“Our provincial government had the chance to design the program and allocate the revenue from it, but they squandered that chance and now we have neither.

Meili pointed to his Renew Saskatchewan plan as one example of how Saskatchewan could show leadership in developing new economic opportunities for Saskatchewan people while at the same time meeting our moral obligation to address the climate crisis. “The climate crisis is real and government should be taking bold action to remove the barriers that keep people from acting on it. Moe’s failure to be proactive on this hurts us economically today and leaves us more vulnerable to changes tomorrow.”

NDP calls for proper funding for Sask. libraries, consultation for future success

In recognition of Saskatchewan Library Week, the Saskatchewan NDP joins the public in celebrating all that libraries do for Saskatchewan people. This year’s Saskatchewan Library Week theme is “Libraries Transform,” which focuses on how libraries can serve communities in many different ways and focus on local needs. 

“As our communities change and grow, so do our libraries. Libraries often fill the gaps and offer valuable services to all community members,” said NDP Education Critic Carla Beck. “This is why we need a government that respects the role and voice of our libraries, so they can continue to serve communities across the province. Library staff and boards know what is needed to accomplish future library growth—they, and the communities they serve, must be a fully involved in any future planning.”

When the Sask. Party government announced they would cut $4.8 million from libraries’ funding in their 2017-18 budget, there was a huge outcry across the province. Saskatchewan residents showed just how much they value their libraries. The government was forced to roll back that devastating cut but has since failed to properly outline any vision for libraries, nor have they stated what their goals are, or who they plan to consult on future changes. 

“Libraries and their patrons deserve to know what these valuable community centres will look like in ten years’ time, but the Sask. Party is not providing any information,” said Beck. “We need better-funded libraries and transparency from our government on this important file.”

Meili proposes ‘Renew Saskatchewan’ plan to support clean energy transition

Meili proposes ‘Renew Saskatchewan’ plan to support clean energy transition

For immediate release

October 13, 2018 

SASKATOON—In his keynote address to NDP convention delegates this morning in Saskatoon, NDP Leader Ryan Meili presented his Renew Saskatchewan plan for removing the barriers that are keeping Saskatchewan families, farms, and businesses from reducing energy usage and shifting to lower-cost, renewable options.

“Climate change demands the best of us, but Saskatchewan has fallen behind. This plan is designed to jump-start the clean energy transition we know we need, meeting the urgency of climate change with the opportunity of low-cost clean energy.”

Similar to past Saskatchewan government innovations like the Rural Electrification Program or the Family Farm Improvement Program, the Renew Saskatchewan plan outlined by Meili would provide assessments and financing for clean energy installations or retrofits for homes, farms, businesses, industry, municipalities and reserves. After an initial assessment to determine the lowest-cost and highest-return option for a given property or organization, some of all of the cost of the installation would be covered by the fund, and would be paid back over time from the customer’s power or energy bills based on the value of the power generated or fossil fuel energy saved by the installation.

“Investment in renewable energy or retrofits of inefficient buildings pay for themselves in the money saved on heat or power,” Meili said. “People want to make the shift to clean energy, but the up-front cost stops them, even though it would save a lot of money over the long term. This plan would remove the barriers that currently prevent people taking action on climate change.”

Glenn Wright, an agricultural producer and engineer with almost 20 years of experience in the resource industry, called the plan an important and urgently needed step forward into the clean energy future Saskatchewan deserves and needs.

“We have the best solar resource in Canada and a lot of room for improvement in energy efficiency” Wright said.  “The NDP plan to focus on clean energy and energy efficiency is exactly what we need to address climate change and grow our economy.”

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Renew Saskatchewan policy backgrounder

Meili shuffles critic portfolios following NDP by-election win

Fresh off a convincing win in the recent Regina Northeast by-election, NDP Leader Ryan Meili today announced a shuffle of critic responsibilities for his opposition caucus that positions them as Saskatchewan’s government-in-waiting ahead of the 2020 election.

“This team represents real leadership for Saskatchewan, both in the Legislature and in communities throughout the province,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “Together, we will continue to provide a strong opposition that will hold the Sask. Party to account for their harmful decisions while also championing ideas that will help build a better future for Saskatchewan.”

Yens Pedersen, the newest addition to the Opposition Caucus, will become the Critic for Agriculture, Environment, and the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation.

“We’re extremely happy and fortunate to add such a hard working and dedicated MLA like Yens,” Meili said. “With his rural roots and his record of strong community service, we know he will fit well in his critic areas.”

Danielle Chartier will take on the new role of Mental Health and Addictions Critic to such a prominent and troubling issue in Saskatchewan. Vicki Mowat takes over as Health Critic.

Nicole Rancourt, a social worker by profession, will take over as Social Services Critic. Trent Wotherspoon will serve as the new Finance Critic.

Standing up for teachers and students while the Sask. Party fails to properly fund education remains a priority for Carla Beck, Critic for Education and now also for Advanced Education. Meanwhile Cathy Sproule will continue to push for answers to the many remaining questions around the Sask. Party’s mismanagement of the Global Transportation Hub and Regina Bypass.

“With a strong and united team of MLAs, we are committed to continuing to earn the trust of Saskatchewan people as we move towards forming government in 2020,” Meili said. “That work starts with standing up to the bad choices of the Sask. Party while clearly articulating our own vision, highlighting our new ideas and sharing our plans to deliver on them.”

Job losses, unemployment on the rise in Saskatchewan

According to the July labour report from Statistics Canada, there are 12,300 fewer Saskatchewan jobs – 7,000 of which are full-time – compared to last month and there are 3,000 fewer jobs compared to this time last year. These jobs losses helped raise the province’s unemployment rate to 7.1 per cent, which is the highest rate in Canada outside the Maritimes and well above the national average.

“These numbers certainly are concerning for Saskatchewan people especially when it comes shortly after the announcement of major job losses at Cameco and Nutrien,” said NDP Jobs Critic Vicki Mowat. “Sask. Party decisions such as cutting $3 million out of job training and workforce development programs have impacts, and that is what we are seeing in this month’s report.”

Compared to last year, the agriculture sector is down 2,100 jobs, the manufacturing sector is down 700 jobs and the trade sector is down 1,400 jobs. 900 jobs were lost in the Forestry, fishing, mining and oil & gas sectors. The First Nations unemployment rate jumped to an abysmal 21.2 per cent.

“These numbers should be a wakeup call to the Sask. Party,” Mowat said. “Whether it’s mining jobs in the North or jobs in agriculture in rural Saskatchewan, we need people working to help build a stronger economy. The Sask. Party have been distracted by their mismanaged projects like the Regina Bypass and the GTH land scandal. Meanwhile the unemployment rate is going up and people are struggling to find jobs.”

David Forbes announces plans to retire as an MLA at next provincial election

For Immediate Release August 10, 2018

Former cabinet minister and long-time NDP MLA David Forbes is announcing that he plans to retire at the next provincial election.

After teaching for 18 years, Forbes was elected as MLA for Saskatoon Idylwyld in 2001. He served Premier Lorne Calvert as Minister of Environment where he released the Caring for Natural Environments: A Biodiversity Action Plan for Saskatchewan’s Future 2004-2009, as well as The Great Sand Hills (GSH) Land Use Strategy which led to the GSH protected area rising from 94.5 to 362.6 square kilometres.

Forbes also served as the Minister of Labour. He helped implement initiatives to fight bullying in the workplace, to modernize labour standards in Northern Saskatchewan and he was responsible for creating Family Day, Saskatchewan’s newest statutory holiday.

While in Opposition, Forbes was elected Caucus Chair and was the Critic for many areas including Social Services, Housing, Diversity, Equality and Human Rights, Labour, and Ethics and Democracy.

Aside from being a champion for the rights of the LGBTQ community, he also introduced and helped implement much of Jimmy’s Law, which aimed to protect late-night retail workers. He has also introduced several bills in an effort to get big money out of Saskatchewan politics.

Forbes will continue to serve in his caucus roles and as MLA for Saskatoon Centre until the next election. At which time, he will spend more time with his wife, three children and four grandchildren.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Saskatoon Centre.  After talking with my family, I’ve decided that it’s time to step away and spend more time with them upon completion of this term,” Forbes said. “It’s been rewarding to work with so many terrific people over the years and to be able to help improve the lives of Saskatchewan families, workers and those most vulnerable in our communities.”

NDP Leader Ryan Meili reflected “David Forbes is a trusted colleague and friend and a deeply committed MLA who - in government and in opposition - always stands up for those who need it most.  I’m very fortunate to work alongside him and continue learning from his example.”

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