During Saturday's election campaign appearances, the Saskatchewan Party said it would fund more supports for those who live with vision and hearing impairment, while the NDP promised it would launch inquiries into both the Global Transportation Hub and the Regina bypass construction.
Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe, speaking in Saskatoon Saturday morning, announced that if re-elected, his party will provide additional support to the Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada and the Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing services to improve deaf-blind services over the next three years.
These supports include adding three additional deaf-blind intervenors, three new American sign language interpreters, one additional sign support professional, and one new case manager.
He said the additional services would cost $1 million annually and benefit 150 deaf-blind people in the province.
"In the larger scheme of the provincial budget, this is not a comparatively large amount of money, but it will mean so much to the people that will use those services," Moe said.
In Regina, NDP candidate for Douglas Park Nicole Sarauer said her party would work to prevent what she described as Sask. Party interference in Wascana Park, and would call a public inquiry into issues around the Global Transportation Hub and Regina Bypass scandals.
The NDP has argued the $1.8-billion Regina bypass was overbuilt.
Sarauer made the announcement at Wascana Park in front of the Brandt/CNIB building construction site. The party has previously said the provincial government should stop Brandt's development in the park, arguing there were several controversial aspects of the development process, including the government changing the laws around who governs such development.
Brandt has made significant corporate donations to the Sask. Party from 2006 to 2019, she said.
"We know that what happened in Wascana Park should never happen to any community in the province," Sarauer said.
"That is why we are committing today that a New Democratic Party government will ensure that Wascana Park is able to operate independent of government control and we would end future commercial developments in our park."
In a statement, the Sask. Party said the provincial auditor has reviewed the project and put forward a number of recommendations that have been accepted and enacted by the Provincial Capital Commission.
"The approvals for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind building will continue to follow the process that has been laid out publicly," the Sask. Party said.
Sarauer said if elected, the NDP would introduce stronger conflict-of-interest rules for MLAs, close the lobbyist registry loophole and require all lobbying to be made public.
Sarauer also said the party promises to ban corporate and union donations to political parties and put a cap on individual donors.
Mental health in the province
Saturday is World Mental Health Day, and Moe said the last provincial budget includes around $30 million for investments in mental health and addictions in the province.
"We mentioned the crystal meth treatment beds that we have opened in Estevan recently," Moe said. "The urgent care centres in Saskatoon and Regina we're looking at will have a mental health component."
Elsewhere, NDP Leader Ryan Meili announced his party's plan to support the north.
Meili said the NDP was committed to making investments that would better the lives of northern families.
In particular, Meili honed in on the creation of a suicide prevention strategy, an issue which the party had tried to raise before in the previous sitting of the legislature.
"Earlier this year when Doyle Vermette tried to pass a suicide prevention law, Scott Moe and the Sask. Party voted it down," Meili said in a news release.
"We need to work with northern communities and invest in the support they need because continuing with the Sask. Party's approach is tragically dangerous."
The NDP news release said northern residents would benefit from many aspects of the party's People First campaign, including commitments to act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.
The party announced it would commit to hiring doctors, nurses and continuing care assistants to serve the northern health regions.
Among the commitments made on Saturday were:
- Commitments to closing the gap in health, employment, justice and education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
- Ensuring northern seniors and Elders get dignified care
- Restoring the Northern Teacher Education Program
- Reforming the child welfare system and increasing on-reserve autonomy over child interventions
- Increasing SaskTel's investment in high-speed and wireless infrastructure rurally
Election day in Saskatchewan is Oct. 26.