Scott Moe’s Covid-19 management has been faulty from day one, putting the economic needs of big business ahead of the public and worker safety. However, it’s still not too late to do the right thing.
“We should immediately implement a provincial Guaranteed Livable Income”, states Naomi Hunter, leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party, “our Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) is proving disastrous, the federal CRB ends this week, and it’s getting cold outside”.
Homelessness is rising in our province as recent ‘encampments’ in our major cities can attest. But they are the tip of a much larger poverty iceberg. Premier Moe should have put a plan in place so people could safely stay home – not become homeless.
“It’s very clear that Scott Moe doesn’t care about the people”, says Hunter, “the most recent example of ignoring top health advice to control the 4th wave should be all the evidence we need that he is in fact causing harm – people are dying”.
It was during the pandemic, the largest immediate threat to global public health in generations, that Moe went ahead with the new Saskatchewan Income Support scheme, leaving many poorer than before. This comes at a time when other vital services have been clawed back or severely reduced.
The Food Bank is seeing much higher usage, impacting how much they can give each person. Hunger is an ever-increasing problem as ‘community-run fridges’ try desperately to fill in the gaps.
Transportation is one of the biggest problems for those in poverty and the pandemic has affected that as well. We need more public bus service in our cities, not less. We need to bring back the STC and help alleviate isolation while improving safety and access to vital services.
Our need for counselling and other mental health supports has increased at a time when those services were already strained and under-funded. Further, many health and social services must now be accessed by Zoom or phone. This adds yet more barriers to the poor and/or disabled, and less quality care overall.
Our opioid overdose rates in Saskatchewan are a pandemic of their own, while Scott Moe refuses to provide the support needed for treatment centres and safe injection sites.
We already had a housing problem before the pandemic, yet Moe’s SaskParty made the problem worse by amending the law to shorten eviction notices to 15 days. Time and again, when more help was needed at this difficult time, additional problems were thrown at the poor instead. Now it’s reached a tipping point and we are in an emergency situation.
“If people freezing to death in our parks doesn’t concern you, or a neighbour dying from accidental fentanyl overdose doesn’t either, maybe our crumbling health care system and overloaded hospitals should!” exclaims Hunter. “Now more than ever we need a leader that cares, one who listens to the experts, and doesn’t let Grandma be flown to Ontario to die alone.”
As a country we decided that $2000 per month was a minimal amount we needed to survive with the CERB/CRB. Now that ‘benefit’ is gone but the need is still there. It’s time for Saskatchewan to take the lead and immediately institute a Guaranteed Livable Income for all in this province.