From transportation to mental health, the Saskatchewan Party government is failing the North in almost every way.
In Brad Wall’s final Throne Speech, there wasn’t a single commitment for Saskatchewan’s northern peoples. Premier Scott Moe’s first speech to municipal leaders across the province also failed to mention northern Saskatchewan and how it is an important part of our province today and in the future. It is clear that nothing has changed.
It seems the only time the Sask. Party government mentions the North is when they are cutting programs and services. They scrapped Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) and left many stranded in the North without access to the rest of the province. The Sask. Party government said the private sector would pick up routes but they made no guarantees. A year later, not a single bus runs north of Prince Albert.
The Sask. Party government cut the Indigenous education program NORTEP/NORPAC, despite the success the programs had at creating jobs in the North and ensuring northern communities had teachers for their schools.
This government also cut job training programs at a time when more and more people are looking for work. These programs created opportunities for people to get the training they need to obtain and keep jobs. With unemployment rates growing, these short-sighted cuts show that the Sask. Party government isn’t working for the North - not even in the face of terrible tragedies in which a growing number of young people are losing hope and taking their own lives.
Instead of making life more affordable, the Sask. Party government implemented a $1-billion PST increase and applied it to home and car insurance and kids clothing. Due to the Sask. Party government’s cuts to cities and towns, property taxes are going up and there have been three power rate hikes over the last two years.
Finding safe and affordable housing in northern communities continues to be a challenge. The NDP MLA for Cumberland, Doyle Vermette, has been calling for solutions to the housing crisis for years. However, he still hears about the difficulties of making ends meet and that housing isn’t available for many in the communities he serves.
Vermette asked the Sask. Party government to ensure that trappers over the age of 65 can get licenses without fees and to make the rules the same as they are for fishing, but the Sask. Party has yet to guarantee trappers would be treated fairly.
The Sask. Party government’s refusal to invest in the North costs everyone throughout Saskatchewan. Beyond the obvious human costs, there are economic costs too. Rather than cutting off the North, real investment would benefit the entire province and start to help bridge the divides that are growing between communities.
The North needs meaningful commitments and investment in the economy, not cuts to services, education programs, health and job opportunities.
As your NDP MLA, Doyle Vermette has been, and will continue to be, an advocate for the North – listening to the needs of the communities and ensuring that the voices of the North are heard.
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