Issues that matter to families dominated legislature this spring: NDP

Seniors care, outrageous ambulance bills, schools up against government’s misplaced priorities

This year, the government is adding $1.5 billion to the debt and blowing through billions faster than it comes in – but the Opposition New Democrats showed during the spring session of the legislature that money is not going to the things that matter most to Saskatchewan families.

NDP Leader Cam Broten and the Opposition MLAs spent the spring session of the Legislative Assembly showing massive shortfalls, cuts and neglect when it comes to the seniors care crisis, the condition of schools and hospitals and the massive ambulance fees Saskatchewan patients pay. The spring session of the legislature wrapped up Thursday.

“This province’s resource wealth should translate into great education and lots of opportunities for young people. It should mean affordability for families and an easier chance to get started in Saskatchewan. And it should guarantee dignity and security for seniors,” said Broten. “Instead, this government is wasting far too much money.

“This government has spent well over $100 million on the toxic John Black Lean project. It spent $1.5 billion on a carbon capture experiment that will barely touch our carbon emissions. It is spending more than $120 million every year on private consultants, most of which don’t even have job descriptions or any accountability, according to the independent provincial auditor. In health care, it has way too many managers and communications staff sitting at desks. And the spending on entitled behavior is getting out of control. Pre-Oscar parties in Hollywood, wasting time and money designing a Premier’s Library and especially having highly paid senior staff travel the world to scope out VIP lounges, interview luxury hotels, request upgrades for Mr. Wall and ensure his favorite drink will be waiting in his hotel rooms. This is not what everyday people want their tax dollars spent on. With Saskatchewan’s resource wealth, we could be doing so much better for everyday families.”

Over the last year, an unprecedented number of families came to the Legislature to speak out on short-staffing in seniors care, the erosion of rural health care, crippling ambulance bills and poor decisions in health care, including the decision to build a much smaller hospital than what Moose Jaw needs or currently has, and exclude the life-saving hyperbaric chamber – the only one in Saskatchewan.

Premier Brad Wall showed a new level of dismissiveness of those families and whistleblowers – often attempting to discredit their claims and dismiss their concerns. The only whistleblower still working in health care to reveal his name suffered severe consequences from the government. Within days, the employee with an excellent employment record was being investigated for new complaints and was suspended. Wall admits he sought out that confidential information, and then ordered it to be leaked to the media.

Wall, his chief of communications and operations and the health minister are all now under investigation for breaking privacy laws, an offense that can result in a fine or jail time.

“Not only is the premier failing to get the job done when it comes to spending on what matters; he’s failing to listen and admit mistakes,” said Broten. “Attacking workers, dismissing families and literally laughing off entitled behavior like spending thousands to vet one five-star hotel against another five-star hotel – this is not the leadership Saskatchewan people deserve.”

The Opposition New Democrats put a number of important bills on the table this session, showing a strong vision for a government that focuses on what really matters.

Several of the bills were about building a stronger, more stable economy. The Fairness for Saskatchewan Businesses in Government Procurement Act and The Buy Local Day Act were designed to support local industry and small business. The Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act would make P3 deals accountable to taxpayers and prevent the worst, most expensive deals from going forward. The Opposition New Democrats took a strong stand for the environment, economy and green jobs with ambitious but achievable targets in The Green Energy, Green Jobs and Diversified, Sustainable Economy Act. The NDP proposed better care for seniors with minimum, regulated standards through The Residents-in-Care Bill of Rights Act. And, it proposed better schools with smaller class sizes and an anti-bullying strategy, including allowing students to form Gender and Sexuality Alliances or Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) with The Respect for Diversity – Student Bill of Rights Act.

Budget is not family friendly

It’s a $14 billion budget – but everyday families won’t get a piece of it

The provincial budget shows the government can afford to fix seniors care, build a better education system and make life more affordable for middle class families – but they aren’t going to.

“Revenues are projected to be higher than last year, but this government won’t pass that benefit on to everyday families,” said Trent Wotherspoon, Deputy Leader of the Opposition. “They’ll keep blowing through the cash as fast as it comes in, and even ask families to pay a bit more and get a bit less in order to support the government’s spending habit.”

Saskatchewan will spend more than $14 billion this year.

“This government is choosing to hold back things that matter to people rather than cut waste,” said Wotherspoon. “Mr. Wall has decided to make some cuts to important things and take a pass on the things that really matter to families in order to keep spending on government’s own interests and pet projects.”

Families will pay a little more.

This budget makes the cost of living problem Saskatchewan families cope with a little worse. The government will kick 6,000 middle class seniors off the seniors drug plan. Families will pay a little more on their taxes with the cancellation of the Active Families Benefit. The Graduate Retention Program is being walked back. Parents will no longer get a Saskatchewan Employment Supplement once their kids are over 12 years old.

The Sask. Party will not put the money into things that really matter to Saskatchewan families.

Crumbling hospitals and health centres need at least $2.2 billion in repairs. But, instead of tackling that critical work, the Sask. Party government will set aside only $27.8 million – a tiny fraction of the need. The government will not offer any help for Saskatchewan patients who pay the highest ambulance fees in the country.

The Sask. Party is continuing to stubbornly refuse to seriously address the seniors care crisis. It won’t add additional staff in seniors care homes, won’t fund the re-establishment of minimum care standards for seniors in care and won’t even catch up on the “urgent” needs in seniors care that health regions identified over a year ago.

With this budget, the government also won’t reduce class sizes, or increase in the number of educational assistants to give kids back the one-on-one attention they’ve lost. The budgeted amount for education is enough to cover teacher’s wages, but no improvements in overcrowded and under-resourced classrooms. Previously promised and already-inadequate expansion of childcare and pre-Kindergarten spaces has been scrapped for this year.

The Sask. Party will not cut back on its wasteful spending.

“The government is planning to spend more than $14 billion this year, but won’t fix schools or hospitals, won’t help with the cost of living and won’t put more hands on the front-lines of education or health care – so where’s the money going?” Wotherspoon asked.

The government will continue with the John Black-style Lean program; the bloated administration in health care; and the army of consultants charging taxpayers more than $120 million per year, but largely don’t appear to have so much as job descriptions explaining what taxpayers are paying them for. It still plans to waste money on a controversial P3 rent-a-school-scheme and still intends to use its flawed procurement policy, failing to draw economic benefits and value for taxpayers, giving more work to out-of-province and out-of-country corporations.

The government has also planned to borrow $700 million for SaskBuilds, which is largely to fund P3 projects. While still failing to save even a dime from Saskatchewan’s decade-long resource boom, this government will increase debt by another $1.5 billion, now up to $13.2 billion, not including pension debt.

Instead of cutting waste, the government is borrowing from the future in several places in order to keep spending at record levels. That includes withdrawing $255 million from the growth and financial security fund, often called the rainy day fund. The fund will finish the year at just $200 million down from $1.35 billion in 2009-10. It will also take future years of potash revenue now, forgoing future revenue; will defer portions of the Graduate Retention payments through its walk-back of that program; and will use P3s in order to show less debt this year, while actually paying more in the near future and long-term.


What the 2015-16 budget cuts


  • Provincial Targeted Programs and Services – $2.9 million cut (-4.6 per cent)
  • Health Research –  $5.6 million cut (-100 per cent)
  • Provincial Programs Support – $9.4 million (-100 per cent)
  • Regional Targeted Programs and Services – $52.1 million (-38.4 per cent)
  • Medical Services and Medical Education Programs – Out-of-province – $1.2 million cut (-0.9 per cent)
  • Provincial Infrastructure Projects – $31 million cut (-72 per cent)
  • Saskatchewan Prescription Drug Plan – $282,000 cut (-0.9 per cent)


  • Achievement and Operational Support – $4.2 million cut (-12 per cent)

Advanced Education

  • Universities, Federated and Affiliated Colleges – $12.2 million cut (-2.5 per cent)
  • Innovation and Science Fund – $6.4 million cut (-100 per cent)
  • Science and Technology Research – $9.7 million cut (-100 per cent)
  • Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings $1 million cut (-13.3 per cent)

Social Services

  • Child and Family Community-Based Organization Services – $939,000 cut (-1.1 per cent)
  • Income Assistance and Disability Services – Transition Employment Allowance – $384,000 cut (-2.2 per cent)
  • Income Assistance and Disability Services – Saskatchewan Employment Supplement – $1 million cut (-6.2 per cent)
  • Income Assistance and Disability Services – Child Care Parent Subsidies – $590,000 cut (-4.0 per cent)
  • Income Assistance and Disability Services – Rental Housing Supplements – $1.7M (-4.3 per cent)
  • Client Support – Case Management Project – $2.3 million cut (-28.3 per cent)
  • Saskatchewan Housing Corporation – $5.5 million (-78 per cent)


  • Business risk management – Crop Insurance Program Premiums – $11.6 million cut (-8.7 per cent)
  • Business risk management – Agristability Program Delivery – $1.4 million cut (-6.4 per cent)


  • Skills Training Benefit – $2.5 million cut (-37.5 per cent)


  • Climate Change – $178,000 cut (-6.3 per cent)
  • Environmental Support – $2 million cut (-21 per cent)
  • Environmental protection – Environmental Protection Program -$1.7 million cut (-30.7 per cent)
  • Environmental protection – Environmental Assessment – $58,000 cut (-4.8 per cent)
  • Reforestation – $1.2 million (-38.2 per cent)
  • Forest Fire Operations – $1 million (-2 per cent)

Highways and Infrastructure

  • Strategic Municipal Infrastructure – Municipal Roads Strategy – $9.5 million cut (-37.3 per cent)
  • Urban Connectors Program – $733,000 cut (-8.7 per cent)
  • Operation of Transportation System – Operational Services – $798,000 cut (-3.8 per cent)

Government Relations

  • First Nations and Métis Engagement – $89,000 cut (-3.5 per cent)
  • First Nations and Metis Consultation Participation Fund – $400,000 cut (-66.6 per cent)
  • Municipal and Northern Engagement – Building Canada Fund, Communities Component –  $7.7 million (-67 per cent)
  • Building Standards and Licensing – $423,000 cut (-31 per cent)
  • Public Safety Telecommunications – $380,000 cut (-17.6 per cent)


  • Salaries – Justices of the Peace (Statutory) – $831,000 cut (-22.8 per cent)
  • Community Justice – Community Services – $489,000 cut (-2.9 per cent)

Labour Relations and Workplace Safety

  • Occupational Health and Safety – $469,000 cut (-5.4 per cent)
  • Labour Relations Board – $53,000 cut (-4.6 per cent)
  • Labour Relations and Mediation – $15,000 cut (-1.8 per cent)

Parks, Culture and Sport

  • Resource Stewardship and the Provincial Capital Commission – $145,000 cut (-5.3 per cent)
  • Community Infrastructure – $397,000 cut (-69.9 per cent)
  • Active Families Benefit – $6 million cut (-52.2 per cent)
  • Film Employment Tax Credit – $2.5 million cut (-100 per cent)

Opposition wants budget to re-route spending priority areas

Wednesday’s provincial budget must eliminate spending on wasteful pet projects and move the dollars directly into what matters most to Saskatchewan families, says Cam Broten, Leader of the Opposition New Democrats.

“After a decade of resource wealth, parents want to know why their schools are run down and have leaky roofs, but nothing’s being done about it,” said Broten. “Patients want to know why waits in emergency rooms are out of control, and why hallway medicine and long delays have become the status quo. Families want to know why seniors care homes are short-staffed with caregivers consistently run off their feet and struggling to provide even basic care.

“We can afford to do so much better, but not if the Sask. Party government keeps blowing our resource wealth on its misplaced priorities and wasteful pet projects. This government should use the dip in oil prices to cut its own waste and finally start spending wisely on what really matters to Saskatchewan families today.”

The Sask. Party government is spending roughly $14 billion per year, several billion more per year than in 2007. Broten argues that the Sask. Party government’s misplaced priorities have caused it to miss the opportunity to use Saskatchewan’s prosperity to build a legacy of better schools, dignified seniors care homes and hospitals with no waits and no hallway medicine.



  • Dedicate adequate funding to repair run-down schools, starting with the most urgent structural and safety needs. The government must reveal reports and inspection records on crumbling schools, which detail at least $1.5 billion in necessary repairs, even without engineer inspections on all older schools.
  • Commit to work with teachers to implement a multi-year plan to cap classroom sizes based on class composition, starting with early years.
  • Add enough educational assistants to bring the ratio of educational assistants to students who need extra help back to 2006 levels.
  • Ensure appropriate academic resources are available in each school to assist with learning, including acceptable internet speeds.


  • Shrink wait times by shrinking bloated administration and redirecting those resources to front-line delivery of care.
  • Immediately stop charging patients for ambulance transfers between health facilities, and cap the amount patients pay by eliminating the per-kilometre charge.
  • Commit to maintain public hyperbaric treatment within our province.
  • Develop a multi-year plan to repair crumbling hospitals, like Royal University Hospital, and immediately commit to properly use under-utilized facilities, like Saskatoon City Hospital.


  • Re-establish regulated minimum care standards in seniors care homes, including appropriate staff-to-resident ratios.
  • Expand home care services, to provide more support for seniors to stay in their own homes as long as they want.


  • Fix this government’s flawed procurement policy, resulting in better value for Saskatchewan taxpayers and more work for Saskatchewan companies.
  • Immediately pass and proclaim The Buy Local Day Act, and develop a promotional campaign to raise awareness about the value of supporting local businesses.
  • Deliver more education and training opportunities for Saskatchewan people, including First Nations and Métis people.
  • Fund a proactive comprehensive drainage and flooding strategy.
  • Invest in proven renewable power to clean up our electricity system and deliver benefits to Saskatchewan businesses and communities.
  • Re-establish a film employment tax credit as good or better for the film industry than the credit the Sask. Party government eliminated. That credit provided a return benefit of $44.5 million, annually, to the province.
  • Create a heritage fund to save for the long-term.


  • Put an end to the hiring of all Lean consultants.
  • Immediately close the Lean Kaizen Promotion Offices, which cost roughly $20 million every year.
  • Cut hundreds of highly paid permanent Lean specialists, immediately saving millions every year that can be redirected to the front lines of care.
  • Reduce the size of the bloated health administration, shifting those jobs to the front lines of care, where they’re desperately needed.
  • Stop flying health care administrators to the United States for John Black Lean field trips, which include a tour of an airbag factory in Utah.
  • Stop taking health care workers off the front lines and forcing them to attend “Kaizen Basics” and other John Black Lean training, which includes folding paper airplanes and memorizing Japanese terms.
  • Stop the endless John Black-style workshops in health care that cost $35,000 a piece, and rarely result in lasting improvements.
  • Slash the government’s spending on private consultants, which has increased by 228 per cent and costs taxpayers more than $120 million each year – even though the auditor says this government can’t explain what at least 70 per cent of these consultants are doing.
  • End the multi-million dollar contract with the premier’s American lobbyist, which includes having highly paid consultants lobby American news outlets to interview the premier.
  • Reallocate government jobs to reduce the high number of communications staff and transfer some of those positions to the short-staffed child protection workers in Social Services.
  • Eliminate vanity projects, such as the sponsorship of exclusive parties in Toronto and Hollywood.
  • Eliminate the $5-million research gift to the American manufacturer of the failed, dangerous smart meters.
  • Recoup all losses for the smart meter debacle, including the $18 million of Saskatchewan taxpayers’ money currently being held by the American manufacturer as part of a future purchase agreement.
  • Stop the pricey P3 rent-a-school scheme. In addition to the wasted money, the controversial P3 method is causing delays in building the schools communities need now.
  • Stop handing so many government contracts to out-of-province and out-of-country companies without a proper value-for-money assessment. This is failing to get best value for taxpayers while Saskatchewan companies can often deliver better value for money for Saskatchewan taxpayers.

Some of the government’s waste can’t be recouped.

The government plowed ahead with the enormously expensive $1.6-billion carbon capture pet project without a proven business case. At its best, the project can only reduce the amount of carbon Saskatchewan produces by less than 1.5 per cent – but no refund is possible for this project with highly questionable returns. Neither is there a refund for years of staff time put into vanity projects like the proposed Premier’s Library, a museum modeled after the American presidential libraries, which would house the premier’s manuscripts, photographs and fine art. Nor can every dollar of inappropriate travel be refunded – like a cabinet minister’s trip to Ghana and London, which was revealed to be primarily a vacation with family and friends; or a Crown CEO’s trip to a Hollywood pre-Oscar party. The Sask. Party’s is plowing ahead with its selfish plan to spend millions of dollars to add three more MLAs to the legislature, and already passed a law to make it happen. It also can’t recoup years of legal fees, spent fighting for its illegal essential services law all the way to the Supreme Court.

“That kind of waste can’t keep happening,” said Broten. “Somehow, despite over a decade of resource wealth, this government hasn’t saved a dime and overall government debt has climbed to more than $19 billion. This government’s spending priorities must change. Because it can’t just be about the province doing well, it has to be about people doing well.”

Broten added that this government’s spending decisions are lacking transparency. The third-quarter update on whether the province is has deviated from the current year’s budget was not released this winter.

The Opposition New Democrats strongly oppose any government effort to recoup the small dip in revenue caused by low oil prices by raising property tax directly or by shortchanging municipalities on the sales tax revenue-sharing deal. Instead, Broten demanded that the revenue reduction be managed by eliminating the government’s wasteful spending.

Cabinet shuffle must end entitlement culture

The Leader of the Opposition is calling on the premier to end the culture of entitlement growing throughout his government as he considers a cabinet shuffle.

“Mr. Wall needs to change the culture of his government, and set a new tone for his cabinet.” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “It’s not just about who is in cabinet – it’s about using this shuffle to create a new culture – one that’s respectful of taxpayer dollars.”

Shocking expense and entitlement scandals have been surfacing. Deputy Premier Krawetz used a British Heritage Tours limousine for days without asking about the price. Social Services Minister and Sask. Party founder June Draude took a family-and-friends trip to Ghana and the United Kingdom and slotted in a few, unnecessary meetings in order to bill taxpayers for their meals, luxury hotel and chauffeur. Paul Merriman demanded the Saskatoon Food Bank pay him to campaign for the Sask. Party, and pressured the charity for other payments when they refused.

“Government MLAs obviously affected by the sense of entitlement in that government’s culture – like Draude, Krawetz and Merriman – should not be appointed to cabinet,” said Broten. “But, the culture comes from the top. We don’t know how many bogus expenses and outlandish demands Mr. Wall’s government is responsible for, but we know the change has to start with the premier and his attitude, and a cabinet shuffle is the time to do it.”

Broten said he has been shocked to see the Premier stand by his MLAs when their unjustifiable expenses and selfish actions were exposed by the NDP.

“It’s time for the premier to stop defending entitlements for government politicians and start defending Saskatchewan families. A lot of people are looking for relief from the high cost of living and the extra costs the government keeps piling on. There’s such a disconnect between what Mr. Wall seems to believe he and his cabinet deserves, and what he seems to believe everyday Saskatchewan families deserve.”

Broten added that there are must-haves for the cabinet shuffle.

“I want to see a new minister of health that will use common sense and end the fat, cash cow Lean consulting contracts, $3,500 a day Lean senseis and $17 million Kaizen Promotion offices. It’s also time for a new minister of education that will start to show respect to educators and our children – that includes listening, and it must include cancelling the Lean claw back the government’s using to take dollars out of the classroom.”

NDP: Spring session exposed government’s neglect of what matters

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.”

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.”

Broten shuffles NDP critic duties

August 29, 2013 · NDP caucus communications

Opposition Leader Cam Broten has shuffled the critic responsibilities of the NDP MLAs.

“I want to take every opportunity to build a strong, forward-looking Opposition” said Broten. “Matching MLAs’ critic duties with their strengths and the issues they’re passionate about will make us even stronger.”

Broten will keep the portfolios he took on when he was elected leader, including executive council, First Nations and Metis relations, intergovernmental affairs and immigration.

Among the changes, Danielle Chartier, the MLA for Saskatoon Riversdale, moves into the health and seniors portfolio and deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon, a teacher, adds the education portfolio to his critic duties.

“Seniors care and education are my top priorities because this government is seriously failing to hold up its end of the deal when it comes to those critical services,” said Broten. “Danielle and Trent are eager to demand better for Saskatchewan families.”

Broten and the NDP MLAs spent the summer listening to the serious concerns of Saskatchewan families, and will use the fall session of the legislative assembly to demand accountability and action from the government.

NDP Leader Cam Broten shuffles NDP Caucus

Some NDP MLAs will have a new role today when the assembly resumes sitting with Cam Broten leading the official Opposition.

“I met individually with each of the MLAs on the team, and we are all excited about making today a new day for the NDP,” said Broten. “Shuffling shadow cabinet responsibilities is about matching each NDP MLA with the issues they have a passion for – the areas in which they think Saskatchewan can do better, especially when it comes to long-term sustainability and smart growth.”

Highlights of the changes include John Nilson’s appointment as health critic and Warren McCall taking on the post-secondary education file.

Broten has also created a new role, the critic for diversity, equality and human rights issues and asked David Forbes to take on the responsibility.

On Sunday, Broten announced that he had asked Trent Wotherspoon to be his deputy leader. Cathy Sproule will serve as the NDP’s house leader.

“I started the shuffle knowing that I never want to pass up an opportunity for the NDP team to grow or do better,” said Broten. “I think this shuffle hits the mark, and I’m very confident that the MLAs I’ve asked to take on new jobs will really deliver for the people of the province.”

Broten will handle critic duties for executive council, First Nations and Métis relations, intergovernmental affairs, and immigration.


Cam Broten: Leader; Critic for Executive Council, First Nations and Métis Relations, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Immigration.

Trent Wotherspoon: Deputy Leader; Critic for Finance, Economy, Trade, Global Transportation Hub, and Government Relations.

John Nilson: Deputy House Leader; Critic for Health, Seniors, Justice, Corrections and Policing, and Crown Investments Corporation.

Buckley Belanger: Deputy Whip; Critic for Highways and Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, and Saskatchewan Telecommunications.

Warren McCall: Chair of Public Accounts; Critic for Advanced Education, Central Services, Information Services Corporation, Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation, and Provincial Capital Commission.

David Forbes: Caucus Chair; Critic for Education, Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Workers’ Compensation Board, Housing, and Diversity, Equality and Human Rights issues.

Doyle Vermette: Whip; Critic for Northern Saskatchewan, Parks and Sport, Tourism Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Transportation Company; Deputy Critic for First Nations and Métis Relations.

Danielle Chartier: Deputy Caucus Chair; Critic for Early Learning and Childcare, Social Services, Community-Based Organizations, Arts and Culture, Status of Women, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, Public Service Commission, and the LEAN Initiative.

Cathy Sproule: House Leader; Critic for Environment, Agriculture, Saskatchewan Power Corporation, SaskEnergy Incorporated, Water Security Agency, Saskatchewan Water Corporation, Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation, Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, and Office of the Provincial Secretary.

NDP keeping gov’t on its toes – Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Murray Mandryk
Saskatoon Starphoenix December 1st, 2012

To suggest that the Opposition is winning the political war in Saskatchewan would be to overstate whatever small wins it has recently enjoyed.

The NDP still has to contend with a popular leader in Premier Brad Wall. And his massive 49-member caucus is still presiding over a robust economy, and the only balanced budget in Canada.

Moreover, the Saskatchewan Party remains much better at the political game, as evidenced by the party’s current TV ads that leave the impression that any one of the four contenders for the provincial NDP leadership simply would be a puppet to the Eastern Canadian and Quebec interests of federal party leader Thomas Mulcair.

It’s obvious the Saskatchewan Party has learned from its federal Conservative counterpart the importance of defining one’s political enemies before they get a chance to define themselves.

All this has contributed to what can best be described as a new political phenomenon in Canada: No longer do we talk about the Alberta Conservatives as the political untouchables in our country. Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party has inherited that title.

It is in this context that any discussion of the success of the leaderless NDP Opposition must begin. And it’s surprising how many small victories the NDP has enjoyed of late – little wins that have left the government scrambling, and sometimes off its agenda. Take Friday’s news of the rapidly growing HIV/AIDS problem in Saskatchewan, even though it seems wrong to categorize such a sad development in the trite context of political wins and losses. News on World AIDS day that updated 2011 figures show that HIV cases in Saskatchewan grew to 186 from 173 in 2010 came a day after Opposition MLA Cam Broten raised concern in the legislature with Health Minister Dustin Duncan about the lack of awareness of this issue in the province.

Granted, this is not an epidemic or an issue for which any individual government should be blamed, and it will not change votes. But the fact the health minister was scrambling in the chamber Thursday with two-year old statistical information was informative.

Not every issue has been a win for the NDP. Its handling of the growing public debt, and the privatization of the Information Services Corp. could have been better. But this small NDP caucus has often been at the forefront of developing issues, or has been able to set the political debate with issues of its own.

Another example is New Democrat Trent Wotherspoon’s questioning of the Kal Tire relocation, which is caught up in a squabble between the City of Regina and the Rural Municipality of Sherwood. The dispute forced Economy Minister Bill Boyd to zip out to Kal Tire headquarters in British Columbia to convince company owners not to relocate to Manitoba.

It also likely played a role in the introduction of legislation Wednesday to make the Global Transportation Hub (GTH) more like a port authority – both wise moves on the part of a government that seems to have put out a fire here. However, in his response to the GTH bill, Wotherspoon might have planted some seeds of concern about whether taxpayers are getting value for money for the more than $27 million they have invested in the project.

And maybe the best example of the NDP forcing the government to deal publicly with an issue was Broten’s questions regarding the federal Conservatives’ horrific refugee health-care policies.

Again, such issues are not great political wins. Nevertheless, having Opposition politicians who are capable of keeping ministers on their toes is always a good thing. Even more encouraging is that they have done this through reasoned argument rather than the bombastic grandstanding one might expect from leadership hopefuls.

But it hasn’t just been Broten and Wotherspoon doing the job. Credit labour critic David Forbes for his dogged pursuit on the asbestos registry, and safety for night-shift workers. Forbes has been equally effective in raising concerns whether Labour Minister Don Morgan’s labour law – to be finally introduced Tuesday – will serve any purpose other than to appease the Saskatchewan Party’s business donors.

It’s not likely that the NDP will win the labour war, on which the government seems to be taking the same unflinching stance it took on the film tax credit. Moreover, the Saskatchewan Party understands that voters are far more concerned about jobs, a strong economy and balanced budgets.

But give this small Opposition credit for holding the government’s feet to the fire.