Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili is touring around the province before the fall session of the Legislature starts up.
On Wednesday, he stopped in Melville and Yorkton to talk with residents and members of both City Councils.
He says he heard concerns that have consistently been brought up during his travels, ranging from cuts to education and health care, the PST increase in construction and restaurant sectors and the shutdown of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company.
“Towns and cities have lost a fair amount of support with the cuts to the Grants-in-Lieu program and now there’s talk of renegotiating the Municipal Operating Revenue Sharing System that gives them a share of the PST.” Meili added.
Regarding the Municipal Revenue Sharing System, Meili says its quite concerning that communities dealing with infrastructure challenges cannot count on a consistent source of support from the provincial government.
The hot-button issue that is the carbon tax was mentioned during Meili’s summer tour of the province.
He questions the provincial government taking the feds to court over it, saying if this fails the province doesn’t have a plan B.
He mentioned the government’s “Praire Resilience” Climate Change Strategy, but claims the plan has two major flaws.
“There’s not a lot of detail,” the NDP Leader said. “If you look at the charts in the document it’s largely T-B-D: To Be Determined; so we really don’t know what’s in there and what it’s impact will be on the economy and how effective it’ll be at reducing emissions.
The other piece is that the federal government’s made it clear that that isn’t going to suffice which again puts us in that vulnerable position where we may end up having a system designed elsewhere that’s imposed on us instead of coming up with one that works the best for Saskatchewan people.”
While he didn’t directly say a carbon tax, Meili proposed having a system that is proven to reduce emmissions and has a positive effect on the economy, while creating new jobs and not costing people more.
“Whether that’s using the money that comes in to reduce sales taxes or income tax or another model so that people don’t end up spending more.” Meili added.
Furthermore, he says these are the kind of details that should be worked on with academic experts and communities, among others.
Hunger for Change
Summing up his tour to this point, he feels there’s a hunger for change in the province.
“There’s a recognition that the SaskParty has been in government a long time, and that they’ve run out of ideas.
People are looking for something new, but they’re not sure of yet is the New Democratic Party under Ryan Meili, is that the direction to go?
As we’re travelling around we’re hearing those concerns as well as starting to put forth a different kind of vision, the kind of program that people can get excited about and say ‘yes, that’s the future I want for Saskatchewan'”
Moving forward, he’ll be making stops around Lloydminster and North Battleford.