January 26, 2021
Report shows Sask. Party leaving workers behind on COVID-19 response
A new report shows that the Sask. Party government is leaving workers behind when it comes to their response on COVID-19, with millions of federal dollars earmarked for supporting workers being left on the table as the virus continues to spread across the province.
“The Sask. Party’s refusal to invest significant federal money on our COVID-19 response highlights the lack of leadership that we’ve seen from our provincial government throughout the pandemic,” said Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) President Lori Johb. “It’s unbelievable that the Sask. Party government would leave so much money intended to support workers unspent.”
The report, released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, shows that millions of dollars made available from the federal government to support workers in Saskatchewan has not been spent, including $49.4 million in funds for wage top ups for essential workers, and $42 million for job training for workers in sectors hit hard by the pandemic.
“There is no excuse for the government to not be spending these funds,” Johb said. “In fact, it’s reckless and irresponsible. Spending this money would have recognized the risks being taken by frontline workers, prevented workplace outbreaks, and brought down infection rates. Looking at this report, it’s no wonder our province is experiencing some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections in the country.”
Johb is calling on the Sask. Party to take immediate action and spend the federal money that is still available to get the province’s COVID-19 infection rates under control, and to support all workers who are risking their health and safety on the front lines, as well as those who have faced unemployment as a result of the pandemic.
“Working people in Saskatchewan deserve answers as to why this money still hasn’t been spent,” Johb said. “Every penny of federal money being offered should be put towards supporting workers and stopping the spread of COVID-19.”
The report, “Picking up the Tab: A complete accounting of federal and provincial COVID-19 measures 2020,” can be found online here. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social, economic and environmental justice.