The spring session of the Legislative Assembly saw the Official Opposition NDP focused on the government’s neglect of the basics in health care, seniors care and education.
The NDP also sharply criticized the government for its growing sense of entitlement and obsession with pet projects.
“For me and my team, politics isn’t just about the province doing well – it’s about people doing well,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “I believe people should be benefitting more from our province’s strong economy, but the reality for far too many hardworking families right now is that extra costs just keep piling up while the services we should all be able to count on, like health care, seniors care and education, are getting worse because of this government’s neglect.”
The government’s own statistics show that health care is getting worse under its watch. With more and more concerns being raised about the quality of seniors care, the NDP pushed the government to fix the basics in health care and seniors care, instead of investing well over $100 million into its Lean pet project. The government’s Lean spending includes $40 million for one American consultant, over $17 million per year for Kaizen Promotion Offices, and $3,500 per day for Japanese senseis. The NDP exposed the government’s intimidation tactics against frontline health care workers who raised concerns about Lean and it also revealed that the government is providing bonus pay to senior health administrators simply for holding Lean-focused events where staff learn to fold paper airplanes.
As a positive step toward fixing the seniors care crisis, the NDP introduced legislation that would have required the government to establish minimum quality of care standards and a residents-in-care bill of rights. The government voted unanimously against the NDP’s bill, despite its own Law Reform Commission recommending such legislation.
The NDP also pushed the government to fix the basics in our education system, like overcrowded classrooms, schools that desperately need repairs, and students that are not getting the one-on-one attention they need. The NDP called on the government to reverse the “Lean initiative claw back” that was sprung on schools and classrooms on budget day and to take the $5 million earmarked in the budget for standardized testing and immediately redeploy those funds to the front lines of education.
“Unfortunately for Saskatchewan families, this government’s obsession with pet projects means it is continually neglecting the basics and failing to focus on what really matters,” Broten said. “The government should be focusing its resources on fixing health care, seniors care and education, instead of pouring untold millions into consultants and flavour-of-the-day management programs.”
The government’s growing sense of entitlement was also on display during the spring session. The NDP exposed inappropriate travel expenses of Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz and Social Services Minister June Draude. It questioned Saskatoon Sutherland MLA Paul Merriman’s demand for paid leave from the Saskatoon Food Bank while he was also being paid by his own campaign as a Sask. Party candidate in the last election. The NDP also questioned the Social Services Minister’s decision to appoint her long-time close friend to the Social Services Appeal Board, which is supposed to be an independent tribunal that passes judgment on ministry decisions.
Throughout the session, the NDP also asked many questions and raised concerns about the rising cost of living in Saskatchewan; the need for a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy; urgently required enhancements for child protection; the grain transportation crisis; environmental protection and climate change; highways and infrastructure; and troubling aspects of the TransformUS review at the University of Saskatchewan.
“Throughout the spring session, we worked hard to bring forward the important issues we’ve been hearing about from Saskatchewan families,” Broten said. “Over the coming months, we will continue reaching out across the province, listening to concerns and ideas, and holding the government to account, not only for what it does but also for what it neglects to do – because far too often we’re seeing this government neglecting the basics and failing to focus on what really matters to Saskatchewan families.”