I think all of us remember Brad Wall's disastrous last budget. This was the first budget after the 2016 election where the Sask Party government was forced to tell the truth about the state of Saskatchewan's finances. These truths were the ones they had vehemently denied prior to the election when the PC Party started to reveal the true state of Saskatchewan's finances. They were also telling us taxpayers that there was tough times coming because of the over-spending on Mr. Wall's pet projects.
One of the centre pieces of that budget was a 3.5% reduction in wages across the public service and even amongst Mr. Wall's newly elected MLAs. We were all supposed to dig deeper to pay increases to PST, insurance premiums, kid's clothing, used cars and the list goes on and on. A lot of people had the attitude that if it was across the board and we were all being treated equally, then we would have to bear down and pay for Mr. Wall's over-spending.
It has now come out to the dismay and anger of most of us that Mr. Wall's rollbacks - rollbacks which new Premier Moe heartedly endorsed - were not equal at all. In fact what Mr. Moe has endorsed are huge salary increases at the top of our crown corporations and agencies. If you are a CEO, VP or other high ranking individuals, you've had the greatest run up in salary increases this province has ever seen under Sask Party governments since 2007.
Remember many of these agencies and crowns are monopolies. We as consumers of their products have nowhere else to go for price competition. When SaskPower asked for a rate increase, the Sask Party cabinet rubber stamps it and we all write a bigger cheque to pay the power bill. The same goes for our auto insurance. I am not saying people don't work hard at the tops of these organizations, but does running a monopoly qualify you for a 17% pay increase when everybody else was being asked to take a 3.5% cut and pay a lot more in taxes and fees in their day-to-day lives?
Our teachers are being asked to manage larger classroom sizes without backup from now dismissed educational classroom aids. Waiting lists are growing again in our hospitals. Saskatchewan's homeless person numbers continue to grow. How can our Sask Party government justify large salary increases for a few select individuals in the public service?
I think these salary increases are for a couple of reasons. The Sask Party has continued the practice of previous NDP governments by using the Crown Corporations and other agencies as back-door taxation in order to feed money to their increased deficit spending. The number one priority of being cost-effective service providers has become secondary to the government's thirst for cash. Secondly, our Sask Party government needs people who will comply with decisions like we have seen with the purchase of a large amount of land by Sask Power in the GTH in order to pay for Bill Boyd's land deals with friends of the government.
I think all of us expect that when government makes a decision to trim the fat, they trim it all and there are no exceptions. We expect that our politicians will lead by example and if there is the necessity for an exemption to the rule, then it must be talked about in a public way so that those of us that pay the bills have an opportunity to voice our concerns.
You have heard me say many times in this commentary that our government is only as good as the opposition across from it. Where was our NDP opposition who supposed to have total access to the government's books while all of these salary increases were being put forward by the Sask Party government?
People in Saskatchewan deserve all the parts of a responsible government and we have not been getting that for a very long time. If Scott Moe is not willing to denounce the excesses of his predecessor, then we might as well have not gone through the exercise of the Sask Party leadership race where all the contestants vowed to make substantive change. It looks like that whole charade was simply an exercise in publicity building for the next election.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.