Opposition Saskatchewan NDP leader Carla Beck made a stop in Moose Jaw on Thursday.
During her visit, she stopped at the Moose Jaw and District Seniors Association. She highlighted a lot of the great work that they are doing for seniors’ health.
“The gym in the basement of the Timothy Eaton Centre is something I hadn’t seen before. I wasn’t aware it was there even. For a membership of $75 a year, there’s a track, there’s cardio equipment and it’s so important to maintain health, mental health and physical health,” Beck said.
She also stopped to have a chat with the folks at Hunger in Moose Jaw to learn more about their programming.
Beck was astonished by the fact that their child nutrition program makes 400 lunches each day to make sure no school children go hungry.
“Some of the services they’ve provided, like the Head Start Preschool Program, for 25 years you’ve got some people who have been working there the whole time,” she said.
Beck also saw copies of the Downtown Moose Jaw Association’s Wish Book and did some Christmas shopping downtown and had the opportunity to meet with local business owners.
When it comes to provincial issues, what’s top of mind for a lot of people is the carbon tax exemption on heating oil.
Beck said heating oil is more prominent in Eastern Canada and the Maritimes and it isn’t fair to single out one part of the country.
Premier Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Party government also already indicated that they would not be collecting the carbon tax on SaskEnergy natural gas bills in response and introduced The SaskEnergy (Carbon Tax Fairness for Families) Amendment Act to protect SaskEnergy employees and directors from any legal backlash from the federal government and that the carbon tax would not be collected starting Jan. 1.
Beck agreed that Saskatchewan should not be paying a carbon tax on natural gas if heating oil is exempt.
“This strikes at the notion of fairness. I think Canadians and people in Saskatchewan, at their core, have a very good sense of fairness and this really goes against that. That was before the Minister of Rural Economic Development’s comments about, well, if you want a carve out you should vote Liberal, which I think shouldn’t apply. It shouldn’t apply provincially, and it shouldn’t apply federally,” Beck said.
To take it a step further, Beck and the NDP have been calling on the provincial government to put a hold on the Gas Tax to help Saskatchewan residents cope with rising costs.
On Friday, the NDP made a motion to debate gas tax relief that was defeated in the house.
“Those savings, that could be brought about immediately, would save the average family in this province $350. We are calling for a six-month pause, again for the same reasons, people are struggling,” Beck said.
Also, there has been discussion around the province’s Parental Bill of Rights and the province’s policy when it comes to children changing their names or pronouns at school.
The bill passed during an emergency calling back of the legislative assembly and the use of the notwithstanding clause.
Moe has recently said that it would be up to the school divisions to decide how the law would be enforced.
Beck feels the Parental Bill of Rights wasn’t needed in the first place and should be repelled as schools and teachers do their best to keep parents informed already and it was simply a political move.
“We want parents to be involved in school. I was a school board trustee going back to 2009 and I know how hard schools and teachers work to be able to include parents. We know that kids learn best when there’s good communication between home and school,” she said.
Still, on the subject of education, Saskatchewan teachers recently voted in favour of job action as negotiations with the province have stalled.
Beck said the results of the vote by teachers didn’t come as a surprise, but she hoped a deal could be made at the table.
“Unfortunately, it’s not surprising to me, given the underfunding, a decade of underfunding, in education. The issues of class size and complexity are top of mind. We hear this in schools right across this province,” she commented.
With a provincial election nearly a year away, the political landscape in Moose Jaw has changed in the last few months.
Moose Jaw Wakamow MLA Greg Lawrence has announced he will not be seeking re-election as he recovers from a motorcycle accident. Meanwhile, Moose Jaw North MLA Tim McLeod was recently named to the government’s cabinet as the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health.
Beck commented that the NDP will continue to reach out to the people of Moose Jaw, and communities across the province, and listen to the issues people are facing.
“What you’ll see continue from us is that outreach, that willingness to sit down with anyone, to hear their concerns. I think this is very important to hear where there are opportunities and when opportunities are left on the table,” Beck said.
The next provincial election is slated to take place on or before Oct. 28, 2024.
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