Saskatchewan’s latest provincial budget aims to balance the books on the backs of the province’s lowest earners, including seniors and students.
The Sask Party budget outlines extensive cuts to critical programs and services, such as a 5% reduction in base operational funding for provincial post-secondary institutions; a 6.7% cut to Saskatchewan’s education budget; and the amalgamation of the province’s 12 health regions to a single authority.
A devastating blow was also dealt to Saskatchewan’s rural communities with the closure of the Saskatchewan Transit Company (STC). Passenger service will end May 31 for the provincial bus company, after more than 70 years of continuous service to 253 communities. Over 220 people will lose their jobs as a result of the closure of this Crown corporation.
“Seniors use the STC, students use the STC, small communities transport their goods on the STC,” said Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President for the PSAC Prairie Region. “The Sask Party never campaigned on getting rid of a Crown corporation. So if they’re willing to do this to the STC—a vital service that has served every small community in Saskatchewan for 70 years—then nothing is safe.”
Hladun said no recognition has been given to what Crowns give back to the communities, including the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (over 300 PSAC members work at Casino Regina), which returns strong revenues that are used for community initiatives.
PSAC will continue to work with labour in Saskatchewan to ensure the Casino and other valuable Crowns remain in the hands of Saskatchewan residents. However, while the Saskatchewan Party remains in power, our Crown corporations remain at risk of privatization––despite a campaign promise that explicitly stated otherwise––and labour rights continue to be stomped on.
Brad Wall is legislatively forcing his agenda with Bill 40, which changes the definition of privatization regarding crown corporations. We are very concerned and are working with other unions and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour to oppose privatization of Saskatchewan Crowns.
The SFL has launched phase two of their OwnIt! Campaign, which aims to expose and amplify the very real risks posed by the Sask Party’s privatization agenda and to compel people to take action now. Visit ownyoursaskatchewan.ca and participate in the online action to call on your local Council and MLA to formally demand that the provincial government immediately stop all privatization of our Crowns and public services.