Saskatchewan’s school divisions have a maintenance backlog valued at more than $1.3 billion, as aging schools wait for postponed work on roofs, boilers and other infrastructure.
The NDP said the deferred maintenance number — which it obtained from the government in committee — proves education infrastructure is in a “sad state of repair.” The party’s education critic, Carla Beck, called it “shameful.”
“Not investing in it doesn’t make it go away,” she later told reporters. “In fact, it actually exacerbates the problems.”
She said holding off on maintenance could force emergency repairs down the road. That will end up costing more by consuming money that could be invested more sustainably, she added.
“You will see more and more infrastructure dollars swallowed up in addressing failing roofs and things like that, instead of being put into preventative maintenance,” Beck said.
Justice Minister Don Morgan, who was filling in for Education Minister Gord Wyant on the file during question period, faulted the NDP for closing 176 schools during its last tenure in government.
“The NDP record of repairing schools was closing them,” he said.
He noted that the Saskatchewan Party government put into place a preventative maintenance fund to stay on top of costs, while the previous NDP government provided “not a red cent.”
The province committed about $56 million to preventative maintenance, renewal and emergency funding for education in its last budget. Morgan said that number has continuously increased. He said the government’s goal is to boost its contribution to the point where it reaches one per cent of the total cost of all facilities.