Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said there is a lack of supports for the most vulnerable people in the province and wants to see an anti-poverty strategy in place.
“Where that has been introduced, you’ve seen significant decreases in the number of people living in poverty and that has a connected decrease in the number of people struggling with addictions and mental health,” Meili said on Thursday.
Meili noted Saskatchewan is the only province without a strategy.
His push comes after Saskatoon and Regina were both in the top four cities in the country based on Statistics Canada’s crime severity index.
“Our youth shouldn’t have to wake up in the morning and realize that there was a murder on their block,” STR8 UP director Shane Partridge said.
Partridge said he’s seen little change in Saskatoon over the past few years.
“We need to start investing into these communities in a more equitable way that allows the youth to flourish instead of having to witness murders, robberies (and) home invasions,” Partridge said.
Meili is also asking the Saskatchewan Party to look closer at the prevention-intervention gang strategy STR8 UP created earlier this year. He hopes both would help marginalized groups affected by addiction.
“It is directly related to poverty. It is directly related to the marginalization of Indigenous people. It’s directly related to the way people have been excluded,” Meili said.
WATCH (July 22, 2019): Saskatoon crime severity index top 4 among Canadian cities
The government said Saskatchewan is the only province where violent crime decreased with the severity of crime and crime rate dropping by nearly 10 per cent over the last decade.
“Earlier this spring our government announced a new strategy that would commit $11.8 million over five years to help combat gangs, and gang violence,” read a statement from the government.
“The gang violence reduction strategy will enhance existing gang reduction initiatives and will implement integrated, holistic, evidence-based approaches and practices.”
The statement also said it’s moving forward with its own gang violence reduction and poverty reduction plans.