REGINA – Saskatchewan Liberal Leader Darrin Lamoureux announced details of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party’s poverty reduction platform at a sold out Regina campaign kick-off event with 200 attendees on Saturday, February 27th.
“Although Saskatchewan experienced one of best decades in growth that has seen government revenue increase 80% between 2007 and 2014, this success has not been shared by a large segment of our population,” said Lamoureux, “The Saskatchewan Party’s insistence on exploiting the Temporary Foreign Worker Program during this time of growth has had the effect of providing the service sector with a source of new labour, while also maintaining an industry of low paying jobs. The lack of sufficient wage increases has played a major role in many Saskatchewan citizens being driven closer or into poverty. Previous NDP governments did no better, keeping Saskatchewan’s minimum wage consistently below most other jurisdictions in Canada.”
Lamoureux announced that a Saskatchewan Liberal government will raise the provincial minimum wage to $11.75 per hour effective July 1, 2016, then to $13.00 per hour on July 1, 2017. This will be the first step in bringing working people and their families out of poverty.
A Saskatchewan Liberal government will raise the basic personal income tax exemption to a level equivalent to a full-time minimum wage job. This will result in all Saskatchewan residents paying income tax only on earnings exceeding this new basic personal amount, effective January 1, 2017.
A Working Tax Credit will also be introduced for those individuals whose income does not exceed the basic personal amount. This credit will refund the federal income tax collected on earned income up to the new Saskatchewan basic personal amount.
“With the implementation of these provincial tax savings for low income earners, working individuals will be able to retain more of their actual earnings. Individuals and families alike will have a new level of disposable income that they can use to improve and enhance their current lifestyle, and contribute to Saskatchewan’s economy,” explained Lamoureux.
Lamoureux also addressed the growing issue of seniors living in poverty, “High rents, property taxes and utilities have forced many seniors, including those who own their own homes, to live without basic nutrition and care. This is not only a housing issue, but also a major health care concern.”
Currently, our health care system tries to provide long term care to level 3 and 4 patients, many of who are on permanent medication and require continual care. Due to budget constraints, the health regions cannot provide full time care for level 2 patients.
The Saskatchewan Liberal Party will support incentives, such as mortgage financing and subsidies for low income seniors, to private companies who incorporate a minimum of 25% of available units to level 2 care in their design. These firms will be responsible for the construction and management of these homes, and will be required to provide the following services and amenities in their builds:
- minimum 50 suites per development
- suites to be between 350 and 400 square feet with emergency room monitoring
- Fit centre and multi-purpose room accessible to tenants
- dining room (separate from the multi-purpose room) with full time on-site nutritionist to provide meal planning and ensure dietary needs are met.
- 24-hour RN nursing station to be provided by the Saskatchewan government and health region
- minimum 1 private caregiver per 8 suites on peak hours (6:00 am – 10:00 p.m.)
- minimum 1 private caregiver per 12 suites on non peak hours (10:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m.)
- mobile doctor available for onsite care
- affiliation with regional health authorities to ensure proper maintenance and standards of care are followed
- first preference to care homes constructed within close proximity to a hospital
“Incorporating preventative health care into the design of these facilities will result in reduced prescription costs, hospital visits, and improved social welfare of residents,” concluded Lamoureux.