‘A damaging betrayal’ in spring session, say NDP

Trent Wotherspoon, leader of the official opposition in Saskatchewan, the NDP, talks with media outside city hall after a meeting with the Moose Jaw mayor and city administration on April 7, 2017. -- (Crystal Schick/Times-Herald)

After the spring session of the Legislature ended on Thursday, NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon said the session was filled with many “callous cuts, desperate selloffs and unfair tax hikes” in the provincial budget passed in March.

“It’s just a damaging betrayal of Saskatchewan people and a Sask. Party,” he said. “People are outraged across Saskatchewan. People are feeling deceived, but they’re speaking up, they’re standing up and they’re fighting back and I hear that from so many throughout Moose Jaw. I hear that from people right across the province.”

The most notable instance of this, he said, was the outcry against the decreasing of library funding, which was reversed.

Wotherspoon said the budget attacks vulnerable families in many areas. For instance, in 2016, he said the Sask. Party promised not to sell off any Crown corporations. However, in the 2017 spring session, Bill 40 was passed that allows the government to sell up to 49 per cent of the province’s Crowns without a vote from the province’s residents by creating a legal definition of privatization.

“What Saskatchewan people have learned is that (Premier Brad Wall) lied to Saskatchewan people,” said Wotherspoon. “This is certainly a betrayal but also damaging, selling off what’s not his to sell, not asking the people of Saskatchewan – the owners of our Crown corporations – for permission to do so and something that certainly threatens jobs, revenues and service and rates within our province.”

He added the government made other “callous cuts,” including in the education sector where funding to classrooms was cut by $120 million, yet education property taxes were increased. Bill 63 was also passed to change the Education Act and give the government more control in decision-making of the locally elected school boards.

“We see a government that’s ripped up contracts with cities and towns across our province, which has pulled away millions of dollars and of course the cost of that falls heavily onto those municipalities and ultimately property taxpayers, making life more expensive, more challenging,” said Wotherspoon. “Front after front, this budget is indecent.”

See the May 19, 2017 print or online edition of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald for more on this story.