The 2020-21 provincial budget from the Saskatchewan government does little to help families and working people that are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, says CUPE Saskatchewan.

“This budget seems to be all about helping corporations as there is actually little in it for Saskatchewan families,” said Judy Henley, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “There is nothing to help workers who are struggling through the closures and economic lock downs we have faced. And there is nothing to ensure that Saskatchewan people are put to work first, before hiring out of province contractors.”

Many of the measures included in the budget have already been announced, and rely heavily on funding from the federal government, such as the Temporary Wage Supplement, the Accelerated Site Closure Program and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance.

CUPE is also concerned about the funding allocated to municipalities, universities, libraries, community-based organizations, and other public services.

“Our public services have struggled through years of inadequate budgetary support and short-sighted privatization schemes. This budget has done little to address the ongoing needs of our public services,” added Henley. “There is still no multi-year funding for community-based organizations. Our municipalities are still facing million-dollar deficits. Our schools are still over-crowded and school divisions are still announcing cuts to custodial services and education assistants. There is a record budget set aside for health care, but we are still facing staffing shortages and closures of rural health care services.”

The eligibility requirements for the Self-Isolation Support Program announced in March were so restrictive that the province now only estimates a total cost of $2 million instead of $10 million as originally announced. 

“We need more money desperately to reach the front lines of this pandemic, and the government’s 2020-21 spending plans are not up to the challenge of this unprecedented public health crisis and the economic fallout of the crisis, that can have a second wave at any time,” concluded Henley.