Report Card: A Fairer Saskatchewan
Their track record:
- More than 72,000 children in Saskatchewan living in poverty - the second-highest rate among all the provinces
- The highest rate of death by suicide among the provinces, yet Sask. Party MLAs voted unanimously against a suicide prevention strategy
- The highest rate of intimate partner violence among all the provinces
- The highest number of overdose deaths in a decade
The best measure of a society is how it takes care of its most vulnerable citizens. What, then, is the Sask. Party government’s record in reducing inequalities, promoting fairness and social justice over the last decade?
The Sask. Party track record
- In 2019 the Sask. Party government replaces its social assistance program with a new Saskatchewan Income Support Program, which no longer covers the cost of basic utilities.
- A 2020 study by the University of Regina reports that more than 72,000 children in Saskatchewan are living in poverty - the second-highest rate among all the provinces. When adults are included, Saskatchewan has the third highest overall poverty rate at 26.2%. The study finds higher rates of child poverty among Indigenous, recent immigrants and people of colour.
- In 2010 the Sask. Party government cancels the Aboriginal Employment Development Program, a program that made important strides in working towards a more representative workforce to employ Indigenous peoples in all classifications and at all levels in proportion to their representation in the working age population. First Nations and Metis people continue to face much higher unemployment rates than the rest of the population.
- In June 2020 Sask. Party MLAs unanimously vote down a suicide prevention bill put forward by the opposition NDP, even though Saskatchewan has the highest rate of death by suicide among the provinces. The rate of suicide among Indigenous youth is even higher. The defeat of this bill prompts a young Metis man, Tristen Durocher, to walk 635 kilometers from Air Ronge to Regina to set up a teepee outside the legislature for a 44-day ceremonial fast to raise awareness about suicide. Premier Scott Moe not only refuses to meet with Durocher, but the government goes to court to try to evict him from the legislative grounds – and loses.
- Statistics Canada reports that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of incidents of intimate partner violence among all the provinces in 2018. The Provincial Association of Transition Houses (PATHS) says that funding for existing resources has often not kept up with inflation.
In 2020 the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service reports the highest number of suspected and confirmed overdose deaths in Saskatchewan in a decade.
What Saskatchewan needs:
- An immediate increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
- Boosting income security programs for low-income Saskatchewan residents to cover basic needs and reduce poverty.
- Follow the advice of the federal government by ending the claw-back of cash for social assistance recipients who received Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments during the pandemic.
- Re-establish an Indigenous employment development program to reduce unemployment among First Nations and Metis people.
- Implementation of a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy to address the alarming rates of suicide in Saskatchewan.
- Much higher levels of funding for transition houses and shelters.
- Enhanced investments to ensure expanded and accessible mental health and addictions services.