Tough spring session for Brad Wall government draws to a close

Click to play video: 'Legislative Session Wrap-up' Legislative Session Wrap-up
Legislative Session Wrap-up – May 17, 2017

The spring session in the Legislature is arguably the most difficult session the Brad Wall government has faced since first being elected.

The budget fallout was swift, as millions of dollars in steep cuts sparked several protests from different groups, including those trying to protect the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), libraries and education funding.

“Is the session defined by the budget? I think the answer to that is yes,” Premier Brad Wall said.

He named shutting down the STC in particular as a tough decision.

“We’re affecting the lives of people directly in the case of service cuts … and you have good people who have been working there for a long time, who have lost their job,” he said. “That obviously is very difficult.”

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Wall’s government was criticized for failing to consult those who would be most affected by the cuts, including municipalities and libraries. The government was later forced to backtrack, first by capping the grants-in-lieu reduction and then by restoring $4.8 million in library funding.

READ MORE: Sask. government restores library funding

Wall said there were some substantive achievements in the session, including allowing tow truck drivers to use blue lights and the patent box legislation.

READ MORE: Blue and amber lights now allowed on Saskatchewan tow trucks

“Our government, over the years, we’ve significantly cut advertising, we’ve cut political expenses, we’ve cut travel,” he said.

During the spring session, the government also passed legislation creating a single health authority and allowing the sale of up to 49 per cent of Crown corporations. Taxes were shifted from income and productivity to consumption.

“We have to avoid, I think, the mistakes that were made in the eighties, not just here but across the country by governments of every stripe, where for 9, 10, 11 years, people just procrastinated on structural deficits,” Wall said.

Opposition Leader Trent Wotherspoon said he hoped it had been a tough period of time for Wall.

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“We see devastation flowing out of this deceitful budget, out of the callous cuts that are being pushed upon Saskatchewan people through to the desperate sell-offs of our Crowns and STC and through to the really unfair tax hikes where people and the most vulnerable are hit the hardest, at the same time as there’s giveaways for the largest corporations,” he said.

“He’s been the premier for ten years. He didn’t get the job done during the best years. He didn’t save a dime during the best years. For him to try to suggest that he’s dealing with this in a responsible fashion is ludicrous,” Wotherspoon said.

As for whether reaction to the budget changed Wall’s plans for sticking around?

“I don’t have a fixed timeline in mind for me. The only fixed timeline is the election in November 2020, that’s the only one that would be fixed I guess,” he said.


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