NDP hoping to see PST changes, hospital announcement in spring budget

Ryan Meili, leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, speaks at a leadership campaign event in Prince Albert on January 11, 2018 (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Reversing the PST on construction and funding for a new hospital for Prince Albert are two of the things the Saskatchewan NDP are hoping the Saskatchewan Party takes into consideration as it drafts its 2019-20 budget.

Adding PST to construction costs was a decision made in the 2017-18 budget. It has been cited by industry groups as a factor contributing to increased costs and decreased construction activity.

The Sask. Party has refused to reverse the change.

“It’s something we’re pushing because it’s something we’re still hearing in every community we visit,” NDP leader Ryan Meili said.

‘The amount of actual activity is way down, and as a result, jobs are way down. In an already struggling economy, the Sask. Arty chose to slap on a barrier that would slow it down even further, and that was a bad decision. They’ve got a budget coming up, they can say, ‘no that’s not working for people, let’s get rid of it,’ and we’ve been pushing them to do so. Every indication is they’re not going to show the leadership and do that.”

While Meili’s looking for a reversal on PST changes, local NDP MLA Nicole Rancourt is hoping for funding for a new hospital.

Brad Wall had promised a new, fully-udned hospital for Prince Albert, and Scott Moe affirmed that promise during his leadership campaign. The timeline was once stated as when the budget is back to balance, which is projected to be this budget year.

That timeline has since been revised to when the funding is available.

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne has said he hopes to hear something during this budget, as the province’s funding for other major hospital projects is now complete.

Rancourt is also looking for that funding.

“That is something on the radar that I’ll be paying attention to to see if we get a good announcement … within the budget,” she said.

“We want the provincial government to honour their promise that they’re going to fund a new, bigger hospital for Prince Albert.”

Rancourt said that even Grade Three students have told her a new hospital is a local priority.

‘It’s a priority for all citizens of Prince Albert,” she said. “I’ll be waiting to hear an announcement.”