Opposition New Democrats are saying that for a provincial budget that has to deal with COVID-19 and its effect on Saskatchewan, it fails to rise to the occasion.
The budget, tabled on April 6 by the Saskatchewan Party government, had a $2.6 billion deficit, Saskatchewan’s highest ever.
“This is a budget that simply doesn't respond to the crises that we face or that Saskatchewan families and people face,” said Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon said on April 6. “It doesn't do a thing to get control of COVID-19 and it doesn't get the job done for Saskatchewan people and families. It's out of touch with their needs and the needs of businesses and communities.”
Wotherspoon said it’s clear to him that Saskatchewan families and businesses are paying the price for Scott Moe's failure to fight the pandemic, to protect lives and to protect our economy.
“There is no jobs plan in this budget, to get struggling families back to work, despite the many opportunities we have to grow and diversify our economy. And while COVID 19 exposed real crises: in education, in health care, in long term care in mental health and addictions, this government won't make the crucial investments that are needed in the lives of people today.”
New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili said with thousands of cases, hundreds of deaths, 23,000 jobs lost and more and more people leaving Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe has failed the province.
“The greatest threat to Saskatchewan lives and livelihoods today is this premier, and his government's failure to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control in this province,” he said. “[It’s] a failure to show any leadership at a time it fails families by taking no responsibility for this Sask. Party’s lack of action to prevent the severe second and third waves of COVID-19 in the province, which have cost hundreds of lives and left many more sick and suffering, and it has damaged and delayed any hope of economic recovery. It's a budget with no jobs plan to get people back to work. It ignores the opportunities that we have to diversify our economy with renewable energy.”
Meili said the budget should have removed the PST on construction and restaurant meals to help kick start those industries. He said the budget doesn’t invest in classrooms or in long term care, doesn’t mention sky-high wait times in surgery and many other key medical procedures, and allows for profit long term care to continue in the province despite the tragedies at Extendicare.
The NDP leader also called for an increase to the province’s minimum wage, the lowest in the country.
“Simply put, it's an uninspiring ordinary budget that isn't fit for the challenges of today.”
“The premier said he would balance the budget by 2024, knowing full well that he would not. That lie has been shown to be the case, to be confirmed today.
“He also said there would be no tax increases, but instead property taxes are going up, once again, under this government.
“And now we see that the government lied to families about their key election promise to increase staffing in long-term care facilities; staff that's been needed for years. And in this budget, we learned that instead of the 300 much-needed clinical care aides, CCAs they promised last session, in fact, they said they were already hiring; that instead they'll only be a hiring 100 this year. This, despite the fact that in their own election costing document, they included those 300 staff in each year of their mandate.”
Meili said he’s frustrated, animated about and darn right ticked off about what's going on in this province.
“This is a government that has completely failed Saskatchewan. Scott Moe has failed Saskatchewan when it comes to COVID-19. And as a result, has damaged our economy has resulted in people losing their lives that should still be with us today. We should all be angry.”