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Fall session dominated by Sask. Party mismanagement, scandal, and waste

“Day-in and day-out, we have seen further evidence of the government making Saskatchewan people pay for their mismanagement, scandal, and waste through deep cuts to everything from supports for the most vulnerable, to our hospitals and classrooms,” said NDP Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “Instead of the transparency and accountability they once campaigned on, all the Sask. Party has been doing is hiding the truth and offering nothing but cuts, cover-ups, and growing scandals, deficits and debt.”

Wotherspoon noted that the fall session was marked by nearly daily announcements of job losses and Sask. Party cuts. Despite Saskatchewan losing nearly 11,000 jobs over the last year, the Sask. Party is cutting important job training programs like Gradworks, NORPAC and NORTEP.

 After hiding the budget and refusing to release a first quarter update, the Sask. Party finally revealed that the numbers they had claimed in their spring budget were way off. They are running yet another billion-dollar deficit this year and, in just two years, they have managed to add $3.5 billion to the province’s debt. 

“During nearly a decade of record revenues, this government blew through a billion of surplus, and the Rainy Day Fund and they have had no plan to create jobs or grow and diversify Saskatchewan’s economy,” Wotherspoon said. “All of their mismanagement, scandal, and waste has a real cost. By doing nothing to create and maintain jobs, by cutting programs and services, and by putting Saskatchewan’s Crown’s on the chopping block, the Sask. Party is making Saskatchewan people pay the price now, and leaving future generations with a growing debt.”

The Sask. Party’s GTH scandal was also a daily feature of Question Period, as Wotherspoon called on the government to answer for their Sask. Party scandal that cost taxpayers $25 million and saw two well-connected Sask. Party supporters make $11 million.

“Every day in Question Period, I called on the Premier to come clean on this scandal and to answer some very basic questions about what happened and how this scandal came about but, despite the daily questioning, the Sask. Party refused to provide any answers or clarity,” said Wotherspoon. “Instead, at every turn, the Sask. Party hid the facts, refused transparency, and tried to avoid any sense of accountability. The people of Saskatchewan deserve nothing less than honesty and accountability. It’s their money that is being wasted and their programs that are getting cut.”

Wotherspoon noted that, while the session was about holding the feet of government to the fire, it was also about bringing ideas to the table. After introducing a Private Members Bill, the NDP was able to get legislation passed to ensure that all workers are covered for post-traumatic stress disorder and, earlier this week, Wotherspoon tabled a bill to get big money out of Saskatchewan politics. That bill will be debated during the next session.

Sask. Party mismanagement leads to job loss and increased deficits and debt

“The provincial debt has continued to rise under the Sask. Party and now we’re seeing the deficit continuing to rise under the Sask. Party, but what we aren’t seeing is a plan to get this province’s finances back on track,” said NDP Finance Critic Cathy Sproule. “Cutting dollars from job training and hoping that oil and potash numbers rebound is not a plan.”

Sproule noted that in the last year, Saskatchewan lost nearly 11,000 jobs, and was critical of the Sask. Party for cutting job training programs from Advanced Education, the Economy, Health, and Crown Investments Corporation.

“We know the Sask. Party has been actively targeting cuts that will hurt the most vulnerable, but these cuts to job training programs will certainly hinder efforts to diversify Saskatchewan’s economy moving forward,” Sproule said.

With the Sask. Party’s wasteful spending on carbon capture and sketchy land deals at the Global Transportation Hub in mind, Sproule said she is not surprised, but is concerned that $3.5 billion in debt has been added in the last two years alone and that the deficit is now over $800 million.

“It’s clear this government needs to cut back on investing in scandal and waste, and start diverting those dollars to where it will help grow the economy, create jobs, and ensure families are getting the supports they need,” she said.

Sask. Party mismanagement results in growing debt and deeper cuts

“The Sask. Party locked up and hid their budget before the election and, when they did release it, it was worse than they had ever hinted,” said NDP Finance Critic Cathy Sproule. “This summer they went back to the secrecy and refused to release a quarterly update and now they’re playing politics with leaks outside of the Assembly and are trying to soften the ground so they can bring even more cuts at a time when nearly 11,000 more Saskatchewan people find themselves looking for work compared to a year ago.”

Sproule noted that the Sask. Party government inherited a resource boom, a full Rainy Day Fund, a surplus, and record revenues when it took office. Since then, they have drained the Rainy Day Fund, the have refused to diversify the economy, and in the last seven years, they’ve allowed debt to increase by approximately $7 billion.

“The Sask. Party are the ones who blew the Rainy Day Fund, blew through the surplus, and refused to diversify the economy. They wasted it all on these scandals and mismanagement,” said Sproule. “Now, they’re forcing the people of Saskatchewan to pay the price with job losses, broken promises, and deep cuts.”

Reality Check: Talking points trump transparency on GTH land scandal

For weeks, the Premier has refused to answer simple questions put to him by the Leader of the Official Opposition Trent Wotherspoon about the Sask. Party’s land scandal. Today, some of the ministers who rejected the deal a year before they approved it, were given the opportunity by Saskatchewan NDP Caucus members to speak for themselves and justify their contentious decision.

Not one of them spoke up – instead they hid behind the latest designated deliverer of the tired old talking points that hold no accountability or believability.

Earlier this week, at the committee responsible for overseeing the government’s actions, the Sask. Party blocked key witnesses in the land purchase from being invited to testify about the sketchy deal.

The Sask. Party once bragged about being the most open and transparent government. But, nine years after forming government, the only thing that’s transparent now is the Sask. Party’s commitment to avoiding transparency. 

NDP calls for better healthcare services in Northern Saskatchewan

“When it comes to Northern Saskatchewan, we see a lot of cuts from the Sask. Party – we saw it with NORTEP and NORPAC and we saw it with the Aboriginal Court Worker Program and, when it comes to healthcare, they are quite simply failing,” said NDP Health Critic Danielle Chartier. “The Sask. Party has refused to ensure proper resources and staffing to meet the health needs in the north.”

The Saskatchewan Medical Association president Dr. Intheran Pillay and vice-president Joanne Siverston recently visited northern communities and they highlighted a number of issues, including a lack of adequate funding and mental health services.

“The Sask. Party has had a penchant for spending wildly on things like the consultant John Black and his Lean scheme, but health regions, including in the north, have been given too little and are left scrambling to provide services,” Chartier said. “In light of the recent tragedies in northern Saskatchewan, the Sask. Party can no longer ignore the long-term consequences their refusal to properly fund healthcare will have on the people living in these communities.”  

More jobs lost in Saskatchewan despite national job growth

Today’s, Statistics Canada numbers show that nearly 11,000 fewer people are working in Saskatchewan compared to the same time last year, including 4,200 job losses in just the last month. More troubling is that almost all of the jobs lost were full-time positions.

“Whether it’s getting rid of 16 deputy sheriffs in Saskatchewan courtrooms, or cutting post-secondary education programs like NORTEP and NORPAC, the Sask. Party’s approach to creating and sustaining jobs in the province has been deeper cuts and further layoffs. It’s completely backwards,” said NDP Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “The Premier should be working constructively to diversify and grow Saskatchewan’s economy. Instead, he’s picking fights and throwing Twitter tantrums while people are losing good, mortgage-paying jobs.”

Saskatchewan’s job losses and rising unemployment rate were in contrast to job growth in several other provinces, including Alberta, where 9,000 jobs were created between September and October.

“While other provinces are stepping up and creating new jobs, the Sask. Party’s approach has resulted in more and more Saskatchewan people being out of work,” said Wotherspoon.

Despite continued promises from the government to move toward reconciliation, First Nations unemployment continues to sit at close to 20% and is much worse on reserve.

“We simply haven’t seen willingness from the Sask. Party to properly address this troubling trend in Saskatchewan,” Wotherspoon said.

Several sectors that are vital to the growth and sustainability of Saskatchewan’s economy were among the hardest hit. They include:

  • Agriculture lost 4,900 jobs year over year;
  • Construction lost 7,700 job years over year and;
  • 4,400 fewer jobs are being held by people between the ages of 15-24

“Lately, the Sask. Party’s focus has been on defending themselves against scandals, standing up for their big out-of-province donors, and finding new ways to sell off our Crowns and sell-out Saskatchewan workers,” said Wotherspoon. “To turn this situation around, we need to work together to build our economy together. It’s the only way we’ll be able to help the many people of the province who are struggling to keep or find a job.”

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