Despite federal investments and important first steps in a variety of areas, poor intergovernmental relations have left Saskatchewan behind other provinces in today’s budget.
“It’s encouraging to see that our Veterans Affairs office in Saskatoon will be re-opened and the realities of job losses in Saskatoon and the North are also being recognized with additional weeks of employment insurance,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “Increased investment in infrastructure, affordable housing, early learning and childcare are also good news but oil and gas workers in Southern Saskatchewan were ignored and our province was left out of extra support to offset the dropping price of oil.”
To address “the difficulties faced by provinces due to the sharp decline in crude oil prices,” the federal budget outlined Fiscal Stabilization Payments to Alberta ($251.4 million) and Newfoundland and Labrador ($31.7 million) but offered nothing to Saskatchewan.
“Mr. Wall’s approach with the federal government caught headlines but clearly did not make Saskatchewan a federal priority when the rubber hit the road and funding was being handed out,” said Broten. “I will never hesitate to stand up for Saskatchewan but a more collaborative approach is needed if you want to get things done. Instead of picking fights, I will work to find mutual ground and get results.”
Broten has also raised the importance of closing the funding gap in First Nations classrooms. The new federal government had promised to do this but the federal budget leaves close to half the gap unfunded in the first two years and makes no commitment beyond 2018. Broten will fund what’s needed to equalize the support for schools immediately and hold the federal government to their commitment by sending them the bill.