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Parties get mixed marks on promises to support LGBTQ2 voters in Saskatchewan

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WATCH: Saskatchewan's political parties have received a report card on their proposals to support the LGBTQ2 community – Oct 21, 2020

Saskatchewan’s political parties have received their final grades on their proposals to support the LGBTQ2 community.

OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Pride asked all six parties how they’d improve the lives of marginalized people if elected on Oct. 26.

“Actions, they always speak louder than words, and so that’s what we want to see,” said Krystal Nieckar, OUTSaskatoon’s acting executive director.

The three parties that responded to the survey got mixed results.

Saskatchewan Party: C–

With a final grade of C–, the Saskatchewan Party got the worst grade of the lot.

The party leaned on its record, touting previous legislative accomplishments. The Sask Party government made gender identity grounds for discrimination and eliminated gender confirmation surgery as a requirement for changing government documents.

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“We want to see what their plan is for 2020… if they get re-elected,” Nieckar told Global News.

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe said efforts to support LGBTQ2 people are ongoing.

“It should be of any government and it most certainly is of this government,” he said at a campaign event on Wednesday.

Saskatchewan NDP: A–

The NDP got top marks, earning an A– from OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Pride.

On Monday, Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili highlighted his party’s plan to introduce legislation to protect students who form gay-straight alliances in school.

“We know that discrimination is still a reality faced by too many in the LGBTQ+ community and we want to work to end that,” Meili said.

Read more: In conversation with Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili

The Saskatchewan NDP said it will open mental health emergency rooms in Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw. It has also committed $10 million in additional funding for addictions treatment and $5 million for a suicide prevention strategy.

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Mental health and suicide are top of mind for many LGBTQ2 voters, Nieckar said, noting the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly isolating for some community members.

“When people are dying, that should be a priority for the party that is in power,” she said.

Saskatchewan Green Party: B+

The Saskatchewan Green’s proposals earned a B+.

Like the NDP, Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter wants to increase mental health funding.

Read more: In conversation with Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter

She also wants to ban conversion therapy and end the policy that bars men who’ve recently had sex with other men from donating blood.

“Saskatchewan does not have to be the place where when people come across the provincial lines, they need to move their calendar back 200 years,” Hunter told Global News in an interview.

Hunter said a Green Party government would declare Pride a provincial holiday and promote Pride in schools.

“Most of the progressive ideas I’m talking about are something that are incredibly achievable and actually not that expensive,” she said.

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As a bisexual woman, Hunter said it’s crucial that people see themselves reflected in Saskatchewan’s government.

Health card gender markings

One area where the Greens, NDP and Sask Party align is on the potential to change the gender markers on health cards. Options inclusive of all genders are already available for birth certificates and driver’s licenses.

Right now, the only options for health cards are male and female.

After filing a human rights complaint, Laura Budd was the first person to receive corrected gender markings on government ID in 2016. She said it’s crucial people have options that expand beyond the male/female gender binary.

Read more: Lawsuit filed against the province over transgender human rights complaints

“They get misgendered and their pronouns get misused,“ Budd said in an interview.

“All of a sudden, you don’t feel safe in that environment. You’re probably not likely to go back even though you need to go back.”

The Saskatchewan Party said if re-elected, it will review the policy for health cards.

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Other parties weigh in

OUTSaskatoon said the Saskatchewan Liberal, Progressive Conservative and Buffalo parties did not respond to their questions.

Liberal Leader Robert Rudachyk said he didn’t receive the request for comment.

He noted one of the three Liberal candidates is part of the LGBTQ2 community.

Rudachyk said Saskatchewan needs stronger anti-discrimination laws.

Meanwhile, the PC and Buffalo Parties do not have any policies geared toward LGBTQ2 people.

Buffalo Leader Wade Sira said they “don’t want to segregate people out.”

“People have the right to do anything with their own lives,” he said over the phone.

PC Leader Ken Grey said his party would commit additional funding to mental health support, though none of it would be dedicated specifically to the LGBTQ2 community.

“We think that there are safeguards in the current Charter of Rights for the LGBTQ community that everybody’s privy to,” Grey said. “We oppose discrimination to all people.”

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