NDP’s spring session focus: people should benefit more from economy

Seniors care crisis and crowded schools still need urgent attention

When the legislature returns Monday, NDP Leader Cam Broten will be focused on making the strong economy work for Saskatchewan families – pushing for common sense improvements in schools, hospitals and seniors care facilities and working to make life more affordable for Saskatchewan families.

“For me, politics isn’t just about the province doing well – it’s about people doing well,” said Broten. “I want Saskatchewan’s strong economy to be good news for everyone – but the reality for hard-working families right now is that the extra costs keep piling up while the services we should all be able to count on are getting worse, because this government is dropping the ball. That has to stop.”

Broten pointed to alarming conditions that are still a problem in seniors care homes, because of short-staffing and this government’s elimination of minimum care standards. Throughout the past year, the NDP has raised concerns about seniors being left to soil themselves, not getting even a weekly bath, and not being given the proper time or help to eat.

The NDP will also continue to focus on ongoing problems in schools, particularly how overcrowded classrooms and this government’s cuts to educational assistant levels have left students without the one-on-one help and learning environment they need. Instead of spending millions of dollars every year on the government’s new plan to implement old-fashioned standardized testing, the NDP is fighting for a plan to cap class sizes and put educational assistants back in the classroom.

The fact the government is now considering having people pay extra education tax to fund bridges and overpasses is something Broten says is worrisome for Saskatchewan families and another clear indication that this government is struggling with its finances, and continues to turn to families to make up the difference.

“With record revenues in a strong economy, this government simply shouldn’t be coming up short and it shouldn’t continually be asking Saskatchewan families to pay more, especially when it’s delivering less,” said Broten. “Families already have to pay extra for the basics – for their kids’ schools and for their elderly parents’ care. That’s not right. But now the premier wants to squeeze families even more by forcing them to pay higher education taxes in order to fund bridges and overpasses?”

With a provincial budget to be released in March, Broten said the NDP will be demanding transparency and honesty from this government. For the first time ever in Canada, the government failed an audit on its central books in December, with the independent provincial auditor noting that the government misled Saskatchewan people by claiming a surplus of $59 million while actually running a deficit of $590 million.

Broten said he and the NDP MLAs are enthusiastic to return to the assembly.

“When the house is in session, the Opposition gets a chance to put the questions Saskatchewan people have straight to the government. Especially since this government has a record of ploughing ahead without actually listening to people, the opportunity to ask questions and continue to propose common sense solutions is important.”

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