The Ministry of Magic and Deadly Details: Saskatchewan NDP’s platform.

Yesterday the Saskatchewan NDP released their platform.

I know, me neither.

You should check it out though, because unlike their campaign, parts of it are rather inspiring. I mean, kind of like how imagining what you’d do if you won the lottery is inspiring, but still, vision and hope should be the primary name of this game.

The premise of their platform is based on the notion they will cut $178-million in “Sask Party spending” to pay for their plans.

I’m going to save myself a bunch of time and energy by copying and pasting the CBC Saskatchewan’s handy-dandy summation of the platform highlights. The CBC also has costs that I couldn’t find in the platform; I’m guessing there’s a backgrounder that went to newsrooms to which I’m obviously I’m not privy.

So again, these are is from the CBC Saskatchewan website:

  • “Cutting three cabinet minister positions and reducing the Premier’s political staff by 15 per cent, saving $6.8 million over four years.
  • Delivering 2,000 more child care spaces and establishing an early learning and childhood care registry, costing $2 million in 2016-17 and increasing up to $8.5 million in 2019-20.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $11.25 in October 2016. By 2018, the NDP will boost the minimum wage to at least $13.25 per hour, by indexing it to inflation.
  • The NDP promises to cut post-secondary tuition by $1,000 per year, taking a $4.5 million hit in 2016-17, increasing up to $9 million in 2019-20.
  • The party will commit to meet 15-minute and 30-minute wait times for emergency and urgent care by the end of 2018, and one-hour waits for less-urgent cases by the end of 2019. The party also plans to restore surgical funding and enhanced home care services for a total improved service budget of about $28 million.
  • The NDP vows to spend $9.8 million in 2016-17 and up to $19.3 million in 2019-20 to eliminate the pay-per kilometre ambulance and transfer fees.
  • The NDP will hire 35 nurse practitioners to assist emergency room doctors and help treat non-urgent cases through a “fast track” system, costing the government $2.9 million in 2016-17 and increasing up to $6.44 million in 2019-20.
  • SLGA kiosks will be put in interested grocery stores to sell beer and wine”.

Any platform that includes reducing the size of government is A-Okay with me, so a big thumbs up for that.

My grandmother – born and raised in Saskatchewan, and a taxpayer here for her entire life – had her meagre savings annihilated by ambulance bills for transfers between hospitals and her nursing home. The transfers weren’t optional – my parents couldn’t have thrown her in the back seat of their Ford Taurus. These fees need to go, at least for seniors.

The SLGA kiosk thing – fine, whatever, as long as the booze is in the grocery store. I mean, most grocery stores have the in-house capability to sell it, because they already do in other provinces… but I won’t knock the NDP for at least making the attempt to bring a-bottle-of-red-and-a-stick-of-butter into the 21st century.

Upping minimum wage to $11.25/hr – which would make it the highest in Canada: when it was increased in Saskatchewan last fall to $10.50, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business was not impressed, so we’ll hear from them real quick. Putting that kind of burden on small and private business is a bad idea, and would likely result in job losses. This promise is likely more about appealing to the 18-34yr-old voter, but it shouldn’t if they actually want a good shot at getting a job.

Overall, their social promises are decent, undoubtedly on any number of Saskatchewan residents wish lists.

There’s some interesting fine print in the NDP’s platform, however.

Um, what?

Screenshot (37)

In 2013/14 there were 54000 post-secondary students in Saskatchewan, valuing the $1000 scholarship promise at $54-million annually. When combined with their other promises I’m going to go ahead and throw that $178-million of additional spending number out the NDP’s window.

Despite that pricey pledge, my jaw dropped at the promise to “convert student loans to grants”.

They cannot be serious.

Am I reading this wrong? Please, tell me if so, I will be so relieved.

Otherwise, the Saskatchewan NDP just announced they would make the taxpayer pay for anyone and everyone’s college education.

Let’s say half of those 54,000 students receive these “grants”, at a value of $10,000 annually. That would mean that four years from now we’ll have forked out almost a billion dollars on the first graduating class of the University of Free Rides.

Nevermind the other, terrifying, unforeseen consequence: Starbucks outlets all over the province shut their doors because they don’t have any staff.

Welcome to Albertachewan!:

Screenshot (38)

Really? Really – we’re going to team up with Rachel Notley’s government on anything, nevermind pipelines?

I am trying to think about what else to say about this, and I actually have no words.

Can you imagine?

…”continue comprehensive review” Okay…”royalty reviews on other natural resources..” Gulp, but okaaaay….”explicit guarantee of no increase….” yes, that’s very good…”at least until commodity prices properly rebound”… RECORD SCRATCH!!:

Screenshot (39).png

First of all, let’s acknowledge that job-creating elephant in the room: oil. Despite the fact that dirty, revenue-generating word only appear once in the Saskatchewan NDP’s platform, oil is what they’re begrudgingly acknowledging exists in this province.

I can totally see how Cenovus, Nexen et al would be comfortable with that utterly vague but significantly consequential last line, can’t you?

Basically, what it says is that once oil companies start making money again, the Saskatchewan NDP are probably going to take it.

When she sees this, even Rachel Notley is going to be all “Oh hellll no. You’re on your own, Broten.”

And finally,

Screenshot (40)

Okay, cool. Schools are overcrowded all over the province.

Except, where does the NDP plan on putting all these new classrooms, and 600 new staff members? Cause there’s nothing in the platform about building new schools, and we already know they are dead set against P3 schools, and they’re no fans of portables.

I went back through the document and found no mention of a new Ministry of Magic, so don’t ask me where all those students and teachers are going to go.

On the social front, the Saskatchewan NDP plan to do some pretty good things that the Sask Party should consider as well.

But, the devil’s in the details, and these details are deadly.

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