Wednesday, October 14, 2020

On diverging paths

Tonight's Saskatchewan leadership debate will include plenty of back-and-forth as to whether we should vote for a better government, or settle for staying the course. And in answering that question, it's worth taking a look at exactly what the status quo involves.

Back when Scott Moe was threatening a spring election, the Saskatchewan NDP released this (based on the state of household finances prior to COVID-19:

Yet even that understates the depth of the challenges now facing Saskatchewan's residents after 13 years of Sask Party rule.

It's bad enough that a relatively large number of people were getting pushed into bankruptcy even before the pandemic struck. But Saskatchewan now ranks second in Canada in the rate of mortgage deferrals since those became available in March, with nearly one in seven mortgages being put off. 

At best, that means many people have been forced to accept terms which will likely prove costly in the long run. And at worst, it means homeowners will see repayment obligations resuming at a time when there's little hope of meeting them.  

Similarly, as Mickey Djuric noted in reporting on this year's pittance of a minimum wage increase which leaves Saskatchewan's workers behind the rest of the country, the Sask Party's refusal to consider a living wage has overlapped with a period of exceptionally high inflation - meaning workers are facing higher costs on Canada's lowest incomes.  

No wonder then that our food bank usage - already the highest in the country - only figured to be increasing during the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet after all that, the Sask Party's response remains one best expressed in the form of tumbleweeds.

Oh, they've found money in their platform for large power users, profitable businesses, and people who can afford major home renovations. But if you're struggling to pay your mortgage in the first place - or relying on charity to put food on the table due to exceptionally low wages - they're promising little other than cuts for another four years.

And a path which sees much of our province forced into such desperate circumstances isn't one we should be looking to follow.

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