Tuesday, October 13, 2020

On anachronisms

Taking another look at the respective platforms of the Saskatchewan NDP and Saskatchewan Party, it's striking to see how little of the policy content - as compared to the surrounding wording - appears to have changed in light of the coronavirus pandemic. And with both parties having had to ramp up for a possible spring election due to Scott Moe's threats, it's understandable if relatively little has been modified since then.

But if the platforms are largely the same now than they would have been in March, it's worth noting that's true for very different reasons between the two parties.

In the NDP's case, many of the priority issues featured in the election platform are ones which are all the more important in the wake of COVID-19 than before - even as they were entirely justified before we faced an ongoing public health emergency.

It was a year ago that the NDP announced that a commitment to cutting class sizes would be a central theme. And the rest of the party's policy proposals read like a checklist of necessary steps to ameliorate people's lives during a pandemic: improved health staffing as our system of care wrestles with a particularly severe threat; investments in mental health, addictions and suicide prevention as those become all the more pressing; child care to alleviate the gendered impact of the pandemic; funding for a "housing first" strategy to make sure people have safe places to live; investment in rural Internet service as that becomes all the more vital to enable full participation in social and economic life; and an end to predatory lending when people are particularly vulnerable to it.

Meanwhile, the Sask Party's platform looks to have stayed the same despite its being entirely unresponsive to the new reality caused by COVID-19.

Others have pointed out that the tax credit for children's activities is one which the Sask Party itself cut in 2016. But even if one overlooked both the regressiveness of the credit and the lack of credibility of the party proposing it, one would have to be completely oblivious to reality to think the primary barrier to access to activities is an incremental cost, rather than the fact that many existing activities have had to shut down altogether or limit their operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Similarly, a tax credit for major home renovations could hardly be timed to be less effective. It's bad enough that the credit applies only to substantial expenses when people have every reason to be cautious with their money in the face of an impending second wave. But with people needing to shelter in place as much as possible in order to limit community spread, it's particularly bizarre to think that many families will be in a position to engage in major tear-downs and reconstruction as winter approaches. 

And a small business tax reduction doesn't help one iota for anybody who isn't already bringing in profits - making it useless for the businesses struggling even to stay open (due in no small part to the Sask Party's failure to support them financially, or to take readily-available steps to make community activity safer).

Those three promises which are ill-suited to the circumstances of this month's election, together with the wasteful SaskPower rebate which I discussed yesterday, make up the bulk of what the Saskatchewan Party has on offer. (And most of their further spending is in areas where the NDP has put more on the table.)

As a result, voters who take the time to see which party's platform actually fits the moment will arrive at an inevitable conclusion. And we'll all be better served if enough citizens make that comparison to ensure Scott Moe doesn't get to barge ahead with his outdated plans.

No comments:

Post a Comment