With Ottawa set to deliver their budget Wednesday, a Regina MP is making it known what he would like to see for Saskatchewan.
The NDP’s Erin Weir, the Regina-Lewvan MP, has three measures he is seeking when the Trudeau government unveils their budget.
According to Weir, the province received less than one per cent of transit funding despite having more than three per cent of the country’s population.
Weir wants to see Saskatchewan get a fair share of the funding, especially since Saskatoon and Regina continue to grow.
“There’s more traffic congestion, there’s more people wanting to use the bus but unfortunately the frequency and quality of bus service is not what it should be,” Weir said.
He said the extra funding could go towards providing a low-cost option for people, new buses, better bus hubs and maintenance and upkeep of the current buses.
FEDERAL HEALTH TRANSFERS
When it comes to healthcare, Weir wants to see more money go to the province to sustain and improve the public healthcare system and stronger enforcement of the Canada Health Act.
The Canada health transfer is a grant Ottawa provides the provincial governments to help support their healthcare systems.
He said he believes the Sask. Party has been “using a lack of resources as an excuse to start privatizing and contracting out the healthcare system.”
He said the deal the federal government signed with Saskatchewan earlier this year didn’t provide enough money for the province and clarity on enforcing the health act.
“It seemed as part of that deal, the federal Liberals kind of turned a blind eye to the fact that the Sask. Party is privatizing MRIs.”
EXTENDED EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE IN REGINA
Finally, Weir wants to see extended employment insurance (EI) in Regina.
Currently, the Queen City is the only region in Saskatchewan and Alberta that does not receive extended EI.
“I’m pushing for our city to be included in that benefit extension because, of course, workers in Regina have been hit by the same downturn in commodity prices that has hurt the rest of the province.”
Under the extension, a person could receive an additional five weeks, or potentially more than that, of EI payments.
“The job market in Saskatchewan is much weaker than it used to be and that it may take people longer to find another job.”
Weir said Regina wasn’t included because the measured unemployment rate is lower in the city than the rest of the province, but Weir believed it’s because Regina is the capital city so there is a stable base of provincial government employment available.
“Someone who gets laid off from Evraz or from the oil patch is not automatically going to get a job in the provincial civil service.”
He said the last economic update suggested it would cost about $10 million to extend EI in Regina.