NDP hears feed­back from lo­cals on 2018/19 tabled provin­cial bud­get

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Sasha-Gay Lob­ban

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the New Democrats Party (NDP) met with lo­cals and school board di­vi­sions on Mon­day, April 16 where they heard con­cerns in re­la­tion to the re­cently tabled provin­cial bud­get. In the 2018-19 bud­get, the provin­cial gov­ern­ment projects a $365 mil­lion deficit. Carla Beck, deputy leader of the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion NDP and agri­cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tion critic, says they vis­ited Moose Jaw to get the city’s feed­back on this year’s bud­get, cit­ing some con­cerns of their own. Beck says this year’s bud­get does not see a vast dif­fer­ence from last year’s bud­get, as it con­tin­ues to take more out of the pub­lic’s purse rather than putting money in. “We know that last year’s bud­get caused a lot of con­cerns and in­creased costs for peo­ple in Moose Jaw and sur­round­ing ar­eas and we wanted to come out to hear how this year’s bud­get is im­pact­ing peo­ple. It is hard to look at this year’s bud­get with­out putting it in con­text with last year’s bud­get. Last year, we saw a great deal of of­fload­ing by the provin­cial gov­ern­ment to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and cities like Moose Jaw. For ex­am­ple, like the wa­ter bill in Moose Jaw in­creas­ing by 15% be­cause of not only a need to re­place in­fra­struc­ture but also a lack of fund­ing for in­fra­struc­ture that was for­warded by the provin­cial gov­ern­ment—down­load­ing cuts to grants in lieu of the last provin­cial bud­get and that con­tin­ues to have an im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties like Moose Jaw.” She pointed to the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, stat­ing that di­vi­sions con­tinue to feel the brunt of tabled bud­gets. “Also, the very deep cuts that we saw in ed­u­ca­tion where this gov­ern­ment, de­spite tak­ing in mil­lions of ad­di­tional ed­u­ca­tion prop­erty tax, are cut- ting fund­ing from class­rooms across the prov­ince and we know that this has had a very neg­a­tive im­pact on class­rooms all over the prov­ince. There has been a prom­ise to put fund­ing back into ed­u­ca­tion but that doesn’t come close to fill­ing the cuts that have been made, let alone, pro­vid­ing any money for growth. There is also no new money an­nounced for cap­i­tal fund­ing within ed­u­ca­tion and that has huge im­pli­ca­tions for school di­vi­sions that need new fa­cil­i­ties or up­grad­ing.”

Some of the con­cerns from Moose Jaw, she adds, is the lack of in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing. “Per­sons are con­cerned for sure about spend­ing where in­fra­struc­ture is con­cerned; con­cerns for the need to re­place ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture; in­crease to wa­ter bills; no money for in­fra­struc­ture in ed­u­ca­tion. One of the things we’re also see­ing is that peo­ple are still con­cerned that cuts were made across the prov­ince, which also af­fected the city—like the cuts to Wakamow. That’s some­thing that has left a bad taste for per­sons in the Moose Jaw com­mu­nity.”

For his part, War­ren McCall, MLA, Regina El­phin­stone Cen­ter agrees with his col­league stat­ing that the im­pli­ca­tions for this year’s bud­get may re­flect sim­i­lar trends from last year. “There are num­ber of things that have been walked back from last year’s bud­get—again, for ev­ery $2 taken out of peo­ple’s pock­ets, they only put $1 back. For ex­am­ple, pay­ing PST on your meals, which has had a big im­pact on the econ­omy and that hurt is car­ry­ing on; PST on con­struc­tion which is hav­ing an im­pact on em­ploy­ment. In terms of re­pair­ing the dam­age from past year, there is still a lot of work to be done this year. This gov­ern­ment is tak­ing more money out of our pock­ets, through dif­fer­ent things like util­i­ties, PST and prop­erty taxes. Peo­ple are pay­ing the cost.”

Beck and McCall said af­ter hearing con- cerns in Moose Jaw, they will be giv­ing a voice to the is­sues. “One of the big­gest suc­cesses of las year was in re­gard to the li­braries where peo­ple in Moose Jaw were in­te­gral in that fight that made the gov­ern­ment re­scind its de­ci­sion. The gov­ern­ment re­al­ized how bad that de­ci­sion was, as pointed out by li­brar­i­ans and those who use the li­brary. We would like to see more of that on dif­fer­ent fronts and en­sure that con­cerns are given the proper voice in the leg­is­la­ture. We want to make sure that the gov­ern­ment is aware that peo­ple con­tinue to strug­gle and are look­ing for a bet­ter vi­sion and a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues that peo­ple across the prov­ince are fac­ing right now,” they noted.

NDPs Carla Beck and War­ren McCall.

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