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.