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