NDP leader Cam Broten is pledging a focus on health care as the legislative session resumed in Regina last week.
Broten spoke to reporters in a conference call Oct. 21 from Regina, where he made it known that opposition to LEAN and to P3s (public-private partnerships) will be among the items his party will be advancing in the legislative session this fall.
The NDP leader said he would "bring the concerns Saskatchewan people have to the legislature," based on what the party has heard this summer, and said the focus will be on making sure "what's happening in the province actually benefits Saskatchewan people."
Broten called on the government to "get back to the basics" which, to him, included "moving dollars away from the U.S. consultants around LEAN and actually making the right investments in front-line health care."
Broten also said he wanted to see the government move away from "outdated standardized testing" and make investments in education, and to "stop making life more expensive" through increased utility rates and out-of-pocket health care costs.
On the LEAN planning process at health-care facilities, Broten was critical, saying "the lessons have been learned and we've spent enough," he said.
He admitted that if LEAN was "about listening to the front lines," there could be merit, but "based on what I've heard from health-care workers, it's been top-down. It's been an approach this government has had that's very rigid, very dogmatic and doesn't leave room for criticism."
Broten said he would rather see the $3,500 per day spent on Senseis going towards "having more caring in our hospitals and care facilities as opposed to doing these things that are counterproductive to morale."
The NDP leader also reiterated his opposition to the P3 public-private partnership process for hospitals and also schools. The issue heated up this week in the Battlefords as the Canadian Union of Public Employees held an open house on the P3 for the new Saskatchewan Hospital.
Broten insisted his approach to P3s was not an ideological one.
"Our approach, and my approach to the issue is not based on ideology but it's really based on what's the best common sense and what brings the best results for taxpayers, for citizens, for Saskatchewan people."
At the same time Broten accused the government of "dragging its feet" on Saskatchewan Hospital and also on the creation of new schools. "We need these projects to be built in the fastest way possible, in the cheapest way possible, and also in a way that brings a final product, a final building, that actually meets the needs of the community and the province as a whole."
He also called for more transparency, noting a private members bill had been brought forward called the P3 Transparency and Accountability Act in the last session.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense to do a rent-a-project or rent-a-school or rent-a-hospital basis for 30 years and not know what we're getting at the end of it."
The start of the legislative session in Regina also coincides with the start of an unexpected by-election campaign in Lloydminster.
Broten himself was in the Northwest region Monday night as he attended the nomination meeting in Lloydminster for Wayne Byers, NDP candidate in the provincial byelection Nov. 13.
Other candidates include Sask. Party nominee Colleen Young, the new Liberal leader Darrin Lamoureux and Green Party candidate Luke Bonsan.
The NDP leader said the byelection call allows Lloydminster to "send a message to this government that it's not enough simply to take wealth out of the region. What needs to happen is to make life better for families."
Those issues - including better seniors care, health care, less-crowded schools and roads - will be the focus of the NDP in the byelection, he said.