SASKATOON—The Saskatchewan NDP has unveiled a full campaign platform for the April 4 election that it says will help families and seniors.
The party’s fiscal plan projects a deficit of $189.4 million in the 2016-2017 year, followed by a small, but growing surplus over the next three years.
“Waste will always be cut and it’s my desire to get out of deficit as soon as possible,” NDP Leader Cam Broten said Thursday in Saskatoon.
“Based on the best information we have now, based on the areas where waste can be cut, it’s estimated that can be done not next year, but the one after, and that’s the plan that we’ll be working with, which I think is attainable and very doable.”
The single biggest cost in the platform is $106 million over four years for health-care workers, including 400 workers for care homes.
The NDP also says it would implement minimum standards for care homes, including offering people at least two baths a week.
Another promise includes a cap on class sizes from kindergarten to Grade 2 of about 20 students, although the number would need to be worked out with school boards. Broten says 300 more teachers and 300 more educational assistants would also be hired.
“I’ve been listening to Saskatchewan people and that’s where we need to do better. We need to address classrooms that are packed,” said Broten.
The NDP says it would boost the seniors income plan by $50, which would be phased in over four years.
It would also raise the minimum wage to $11.25 this October, with a goal of reaching at least $13.25 by 2018.
“These are fully costed and based on the best predictions in terms of what will happen with the economy, that auditors have looked at and approved in terms of projections,” said Broten.
Earlier in the campaign, Broten also said the NDP would implement a small tax cut for middle-class families, saving nearly 70 per cent of people about $90 a year. The tax cut would be largely offset by increasing taxes one per cent for people who make more than $175,000.
The NDP says it will also cut the number of cabinet ministers by three to 15, cut political staff and outside consultants to help trim $178 million from the budget.
Broten had earlier announced plans to cut the number of politicians in the Saskatchewan legislature.
The number of constituencies was increased to 61 from 58 when the electoral map was redrawn—something Premier Brad Wall said was necessary because of population growth. Broten said he would undo that change and go even further by reducing the number of members of the legislative assembly to 55.
The Saskatchewan Party has not yet released its full campaign platform.
However, Premier Brad Wall has already announced plans to spend $70 million over three years on repairs to the province’s crumbling highways. Wall said last week that would be the most expensive plank in the Saskatchewan Party’s election platform, which he has said will include relatively few campaign promises because he’s watching the finances.
The Saskatchewan Party reacted quickly to the NDP platform announcement.
A Saskatchewan Party spokeswoman said in an email that “the NDP has left a gaping $800 million hole in the cost estimates of their election platform.” The email says the New Democrats have failed to account for a promise to bring back the lowest cost utility bundle, which the Saskatchewan Party says is $595 million over four years.
Broten challenged Wall to dispute the platform.
“Our plan is out there. Our priorities are out there. Our platform is out there, which is costed, which is verified. Where’s his budget?”