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NDP demands answers on government's smart meter fiasco

A day after the provincial government announced it will uninstall 105,000 smart meters, the Opposition Leader said Saskatchewan people have a lot of questions, and deserve answers.  

The six- to nine-month job removing the new meters comes after at least eight fires were sparked by the meters or their installation during the government's smart meter project – a project it committed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on.

New grain transportation rules need teeth

With much of last year's harvest still in the bins, and with new grain transportation rules due Friday, Saskatchewan's NDP is continuing to push for higher transport-volume requirements and stringent regulations that meet the needs of Saskatchewan's producers.

The federal agriculture and transportation ministers have committed to review the mandatory transport-volume requirements and finalize new grain transportation regulations by Aug. 1.

But, the official Opposition is questioning why Saskatchewan’s producers have still not seen a draft of the regulation changes, and why the provincial government hasn’t demanded answers on their behalf.

NDP opposes government decision to plow ahead with P3 schools

With no value for money evidence, the government confirmed today it will plow ahead with a plan to use a privatized P3 scheme to bulk-build children’s schools.

“P3s cost more, and they mean delays before building can even begin,” said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader and education critic. “This private rent-a-school approach has been tried in other places – including in Nova Scotia and Alberta – and it has been abandoned in those jurisdictions because it costs more. The government is ignoring evidence, and certainly ignoring good financial sense to plow ahead with its P3 schools scheme.”

Families should not have to pay for smart meter debacle

Meters recalled after government fails to do due diligence

The NDP says Saskatchewan people should not have to pay a dollar for government’s smart meter debacle – which was finally halted today after at least eight fires were started by the smart meters or their installation.

“This file has been mishandled by government from the beginning,” said Cathy Sproule, NDP critic for SaskPower. “The government entered into a contract with an American corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and bought more than 200,000 of these faulty units from a manufacturer that has a track record of fires. Not only have we already paid for these smart meters to be installed, now someone will have to pay – and families will have to wait – for them to removed from our homes.”

Health care workers should be included under PIDA

PIDA annual report, released Tuesday, says health workers should be included

In agreement with the commissioner, the NDP wants the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) to be changed to include employees of health regions.

“Of those public employees who contact the official Opposition with concerns about their workplace, the majority are health care workers,” said NDP justice critic John Nilson. “Many health care professionals are concerned about patient safety with the implementation of Lean. They have contacted us about specific incidents they say put patients at risk, but so often they want to maintain anonymity because they fear losing their jobs or being punished for speaking out.”

Government must address smart meter problems

The NDP is renewing its call for the government to actively address serious concerns with its smart meter program after yet another house fire was sparked.

“Families have questions, and they deserve answers from the government,” said Cathy Sproule, NDP critic for SaskPower.

“The government has been far too quiet. But it was this government that chose to contract out smart meter installation to an American corporation and it signed an exemption to allow that company to use less-trained workers to install the meters. The government can’t be hands-off now that there are problems.”

Record-high number of critical incidents in health care

Government’s Lean program is hurting care

The health system caused more critical incidents in Saskatchewan’s hospitals and health facilities last year than in any other year – another indication the government’s Lean overhaul of health care is making things worse instead of better, according to the NDP.

The Ministry of Health annual report shows 195 critical incidents for the 2013/14 fiscal year. That’s up from 161 a year earlier and 127 the year before that. Critical incidents are defined as the actual or potential loss of life, limb or function caused by the health system.

Beds for seniors with dementia cut in Yorkton

Vulnerable seniors with dementia are being moved out of the dementia unit at the Yorkton and District Nursing Home as spaces are being cut for budgetary reasons.

One full wing of the 48-bed dementia unit is closing. Some residents with dementia will be moved to beds in the care home that are not specialized for dementia care while others will be moved out of Yorkton to find a placement.

Government must reconsider smart meter installer requirements

Non-qualified electrical workers allowed to install smart meters, thanks to exemption

The government is using workers who are not qualified electrical workers to replace SaskPower and SaskEnergy meters with smart meters. With six fires resulting from meter swaps in just two months, the NDP wants the government to reconsider that policy.

The laws in Saskatchewan require a worker be a journeyman electrician or supervised apprentice to work with the voltage contained in electrical meters, but the government gave the smart meter project an exemption to the law so less-trained workers could remove the existing meters and install the new smart meters.

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