The Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP) announced its complete 2020 election platform in Saskatoon on Oct. 9, focusing on “People First.”
NDP Leader Ryan Meili said, “This past six months has really shown the strength of Saskatchewan people. People have stepped up in remarkable ways to keep each other safe, and to help each other out. The government hasn't stepped up in the same way. They haven't had our backs the way that they should. We need a premier that won't ignore the problems Saskatchewan is facing. We need a government that understands what Saskatchewan people are going through, time and again. Scott Moe and the Sask Party have shown us that he isn't that Premier, that they aren't that government.
He continued, “This election, the people of Saskatchewan have a clear choice. A choice between austerity, cuts, privatization, more bad decisions, more broken promises, or a government that will make the investments to put people first. Get our economy moving, generate the revenue needed to pay for what matters most, and to help each other out through this difficult time. The cuts on offer from Scott Moe are a bad idea anytime. But right now, they're downright dangerous. Unfortunately, that's all that's on offer from the Sask Party. It's all they've got. They're out of ideas and spinning their wheels. They're satisfied, and the only thing they have to offer, the people of Saskatchewan are more empty promises and deeper cuts.”
The NDP promised to “appoint a panel of experts to open the Sask. Party’s books, tell the true story of our finances and advise us on how to build our province back stronger than ever.”
On health care, the NDP promises to end short staffing in primary care, long-term care and acute care by hiring 100 doctors, 150 registered nurses, 300 licensed practical nurses and 500 continuing care aides. Better home care would allow seniors to stay in their homes longer. Minimum care standards would be implemented in long-term care facilities. There would be an independent “Seniors Advocate.”
Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert would see dedicated mental health emergency rooms. A $2 million opioid and crystal methamphetamine strategy would be implemented, along with a $5 million suicide prevention strategy. Addiction treatment would get an additional $10 million. Public health would be given $1.5 million to prepare for future outbreaks. Insulin pumps for Type 1 diabetics would be covered, as would continuous glucose monitoring for minors.
For education, smaller class sizes would be a priority, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NDP would fund 1,000 more teachers, 700 more educational assistances and 400 caretakers. There would be 50 school-based mental health and addiction nurses hired as well as other mental health supports. The NDP would spend $3 million on a rural education strategy for small-town schools.
The NDP would implement “affordable and accessible $25/day childcare, fix the childcare subsidy and create 2,200 new spaces each year to help struggling families.”
Student loan interest would be eliminated. Children leaving foster care would get free tuition. Funding would be restored to the Northern Teacher Education Program, and First Nations schools would receive equal funding.
On the economic front, several points would specifically undo recent Sask. Party initiatives. The Saskatchewan Transportation Company would be rebuilt and a film tax credit would be restored. Labour legislation would be changed “so that workers can join unions, have safe workplaces and get fair contracts from employers.”
Crop insurance rates would be lowered for new farmers to help them get started and $20 million per year would be provided to increase AgriStability reference margins.
The NDP would remove the PST from construction labour and improve rural high speed internet and cellular service. SGI would lower rates roughly $85 per vehicle, and provide a $100 rebate for all policy holders.
Pay equity legislation would be enacted and a $15 per hour minimum wage would be implemented, phased in over the first term.
A provincial “Buy Saskatchewan” campaign would be initiated.
Improved recognition of foreign credentials would be implemented for new Canadians. A retraining program worth $10 million would be put into place. A provincial government and Crown corporation internship program would be created.
By 2030, the NDP would see Saskatchewan move to 50 per cent renewable and non-emitting electricity generation, with a legislated target of 100 per cent emissions-free electricity by 2050. Geothermal power production would be encouraged, as would small-scale power generation, including municipal, First Nation and Metis communities generating their own power.
In a broader context, under “All of us, together,” the NDP would spend $10 million acting on the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They would work with the federal government, First Nations and Metis governments to “close the gap in health, employment, justice and education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”
There would be a $5 million poverty reduction strategy and doubling of a gang-prevention strategy. The child welfare system would be reformed. A Ministry of Northern Affairs would be reimplemented.
Dress codes at work that make women feel less safe, like mandatory high heels, would be banned. Legislation would officially recognized gay-straight alliances “to ensure safety and support for all our students.”
Children would be taught “respectful relationships, including the importance of consent.”
The NDP would “eliminate predatory lending through a cap on interest rates and a cap on cheque cashing fees.”
There would be a disabilities strategy and restoration of the family class for the Saskatchewan Immigration Nominee Program.
On the political front, the platform states, “Our top priority is finally making it illegal for people from outside of Saskatchewan to donate to political parties and banning corporate and union donations.”
The NDP would call a public inquiry into the Global Transportation Hub and Regina Bypass. Stronger conflict-of-interest rules would be brought in for MLAs. All lobbying would be made public. The Provincial Auditor would report on the state of the province’s finances prior to each election. Commercial development in parks, like Regina’s Wascana Park, would end.
On “Building Saskatchewan,” the NDP would focus on a “Sask-First procurement policy.” Instead of building “mega-schools,” the NDP would build small local schools and end the use of public-private partnerships for government projects.
Prince Albert would get a new bridge and a new hospital, “not just a glorified renovation.”
Southeast Regina would get a new high school. Wollaston Lake would get an all-season road.
Regina would see a new surgical centre. Community rinks would get a grant program restored. The NDP would also “clear the $5 billion backlog on upkeep for our schools and hospitals, starting by increasing spending on deferred maintenance in health care and education infrastructure by 50 per cent.”
The 22-page document is “fully costed and have been reviewed” by Rob Gillezeau, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
The platform lists $171.7 million in new spending in 2020-21, $598.9 million in 2021-22, $628 million in 2022-23, $658.4 million in 2023-24, and $687 million in 2024-25. That would result in a $2.3 billion deficit this year, $1.95 billion in 2021-22, $1.48 billion in 2022-23, $998 million in 2023-24, and $563 million in 2024-25. There is no reference to balancing the books within the next four years.