The Saskatchewan NDP says the government’s 2023-24 budget doesn’t do anything to help the people of the province.
The Official Opposition said that Wednesday, after the Saskatchewan Party announced its $1-billion surplus wouldn’t be going towards any new programs or benefits for Saskatchewan people but rather to pay down the province’s debt, which has continued to climb in the recent years.
NDP Leader Carla Beck said the budget doesn’t help families, students or Saskatchewan people trying to get by in an economy that’s getting more and more expensive.
“Budgets are about choices and they’re about people and priorities. This budget shows the Sask. Party is wildly out of touch,” Beck said. “This is a budget that proves Scott Moe and the Sask. Party aren’t listening to you.
“This province has so much potential and opportunity, but like every (economic) boom before it, the Sask. Party is squandering that potential.”
Beck feels those benefiting from this budget aren’t those who are the ones struggling to get by.
“It fails to invest in our families, health and our kids’ future. The people of this province deserve better and it’s time they do get a government that actually listens,” she stated.
Beck said that given there was surplus of over $1 billion, she was surprised there were no new supports for areas like education and relief when it comes to fighting inflation.
“We have seen a government preside through boom years (with) some really massive cuts and underfunding of our K-12 system. We’ve seen our classrooms do more with less to the point that they’re at a breaking point and I really thought we’d see some sort of investment in our K-12 system,” she said. “We don’t see that. We don’t even see an investment that even meets inflation in our classrooms right now.
“When the province is bragging about how well they’re doing, there should be some reflection in the budget and in how people in this province are feeling, but I don’t see that and I don’t see that reflected in this budget,” Beck continued. “And again, we say it a lot, but we say it because it’s true: We’re looking at a government that has stopped listening, that is out of touch and has completely lost the plot in so many instances as to what is important to people in this province and I think you see that reflected in this budget.”
If given the reins to the budget, Beck and NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon feel they could give supports to people who need them and still come out of it with a surplus.
“I think we’ve talked about those priorities for a while: Looking at addressing the cost of living, rolling back the increases that we saw back to 2017 — certainly the SaskPower and energy hikes — (and making) investments in health care and stabilizing the health care,” Beck said.
“We see very little in this budget to address retention. We need to retain, we need to stabilize the people who are working there, (who) are short, leaving and being enticed by other provinces who are getting that investments right and then around jobs and the economy.”
“We could’ve done so many of those things and still had a massive surplus,” he said. “It’s not a matter of depleting that surplus; these are investments that could be made and put us in a better fiscal and economic position down the road.”
He added he was also disappointed in the budget and annoyed that the PST on construction projects is still there.