Five things to watch for in the provincial budget

As the Sask. Party government prepares to present a provincial budget later in March, here are five things that Saskatchewan’s labour movement will be looking for:

1. Job Creation Plan - The province has suffered from record job losses and high unemployment as a result of the pandemic. As the province looks forward to a recovery from COVID-19, the provincial government must include budget funding for a plan to create good jobs for Saskatchewan workers across all sectors. So far, the Sask. Party has left workers who suffered job losses as a result of the pandemic behind and have done nothing to create good jobs for working people in the province.

2. Funding to Fix Long Term Care - The pandemic brought to light the crisis in long term care. Understaffing and outdated facilities led to a crisis that resulted in the deaths of many in long term care. Our seniors deserve better, and so do the workers who care for them. This year’s budget must include funding to fix long term care and provide safe staffing levels to ensure the health and safety of both those in long term care and long term care workers.

3. Investments to Improve Public Services - The pandemic has damaged the public services we all rely on, and the Sask. Party’s disastrous mismanagement of the pandemic has only made things worse. To move forward, Saskatchewan needs significant investment in our public services, particularly in healthcare and education, where frontline workers are burnt out from working around the clock through five waves of COVID-19. Even after the province has recovered, there is a significant need for immediate investment in our public services. Waitlists for surgeries are growing, rural hospitals are being forced to close due to short staffing, and teachers and education workers are not being provided with the tools they need to be kept safe at work. Significant investments in our public services - not privatization- must be made to fix the damage done by the Sask. Party’s pandemic mismanagement.

4. Paid Sick Leave for All Workers - Workers in Saskatchewan shouldn’t have to make the choice to either collect a paycheque and put food on the table or go to work sick. All workers deserve paid sick time, and legislation to ensure paid sick leave for all workers should be a part of the government’s budget and a priority in the spring legislative session.

5. Funding for Public Childcare Spaces- Last year, the province signed a historic agreement with the federal government that provided $41 million in federal funding to create 28,000 new childcare spaces and ensure $10-a-day childcare by 2025. This year’s budget should provide a clear path to increase the amount of public childcare spaces available in the province, and a plan to train and hire early learning and childcare workers on a fair wage grid. This investment in early learning and childcare is vital to the province’s recovery from COVID-19, and the federal funding provided to the province will significantly reduce the cost of childcare for families in Saskatchewan.