Saskatchewan budget fails to account for costly privatization and does little to address affordability

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan Division

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan Division

The 2014 – 2015 provincial budget released on March 19, 2014 fails to put a price tag on the government’s costly public-private partnership (P3) privatization for new schools and does little to address the growing problem of a rising cost of living, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees – Saskatchewan.

“It’s difficult to have confidence in a budget that leaves out the price Saskatchewan people will have to pay for costly P3 privatization and the bill for the extra corporate profits that come with P3 schemes,” says Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan.  Graham notes the 2014-2015 budget only lists $3.3 million for the costs related to the design of nine new joint-use schools using P3s and actually makes a cut to overall school capital and maintenance funding.

“P3 schools have been proven in other provinces to be a rip-off.   We should choose the cost effective and transparent approach to building new schools and other infrastructure by using traditional public financing instead of costly P3 privatization.”

Ahead of the budget, CUPE called on the government to make priority investments in K-12 education to reverse cuts to education support workers and, for the province’s two universities, dollars to relieve an ever-rising tuition bill for students and funds to prevent further frontline staff layoffs at the University of Saskatchewan due to an apparent budget crunch.  Unfortunately, the 2014-2015 budget will provide stagnant funding for school divisions and holds the line on university operating grants.

Other priority investments called for by CUPE included the areas of child care and long-term care.  While 500 more child care spaces will be funded in the budget, child care workers will continue to see their wages fall behind inflation and child care spaces will remain unable to keep up with demand. Long term care and home care will have no new dollars in the 2014-2015 budget despite concerns of understaffing at government long-term care facilities and home care funding ranked second to last on a per capita basis when compared to other provinces.

/nm cope 342