What would you do to stop school closures in Saskatchewan?
All across the province, communities and neighbourhoods are being devastated by school closures. In Regina alone, 5 schools in the public system have been closed since 2008. At a recent Regina Public School Board meeting two more, Haultain and Dieppe, were cited for closure.
As a result of these closures, more and more of the province’s children are being bused to large and distant schools. Should closures continue at the present rate, 46% of public elementary school children in Regina will be riding the bus to school.
School closures have a negative impact on neighbourhood stability, quality of life for residents, and local property values.
- Research shows that students do better in smaller schools and smaller classrooms. It also shows that small schools are more economically efficient than large schools.
- Busing is not good for students or for the environment.
- Closures are often based on outmoded school enrollment data. The fact is the population of the province is growing and overcrowding has become a serious concern at many schools.
For more information about school closures in Regina, visit the website of Real Renewal: www.realrenewal.org
What will your party do to reduce income inequality in Saskatchewan?
- Who is benefitting from Saskatchewan’s booming economy? It is definitely not those who are unemployed and/or homeless. Nor is it seniors or recipients of social assistance or students or minimum wage workers or middle-income earners or Aboriginal communities or….
- In Saskatchewan in 2009, the richest 20% held 43.1% of total after-tax income, while the poorest 20% held 5%.
- In March 2010, 22,662 people in Saskatchewan used the food bank, a 20% increase over 2009. 44% of these food bank users were children.
- Since 2008, homeless shelter use in Regina has risen by 25%. In 2010, 2,686 adults slept in homeless shelters in Regina.
- Last winter, Carmichael Outreach put out a call to citizens of Regina to donate used tents–a last “housing” option for people.
- In 2010, the CEO of PotashCorp took home $11,264,973, while a full-time minimum wage worker earned $19,240.
- In 2010, PotashCorp earned $1.8 billion on its potash mines in Saskatchewan, but paid only $76.5 million in taxes and royalties, a mere 5% of its earnings.
6 WAYS TO REDUCE INCOME INEQUALITY
Increase the minimum wage to at least $11.50 an hour and then index it to cost-of-living increases.
Raise social assistance benefits until they reach the poverty line and then index them to cost-of-living increases.
Build affordable homes and rental accommodation.
Pass rent control legislation.
Raise the royalty rates on corporations extracting natural resources.
Allocate 3% of all natural resource royalties to poverty reduction.
Find out more about income inequality in Saskatchewan by visiting Occupy Regina, Victoria Park plaza, 12th Ave. and Scarth St. When the Occupy protesters say “we are the 99%,” that is what they are referring to: the concentration of the province’s wealth in fewer and fewer hands. We salute the occupiers of Victoria Park for their bravery and fortitude and thank them for standing up for the rest of us.
Do you support natural resource revenue sharing between the province and Aboriginal peoples?
Saskatchewan is leading the nation in economic growth. But the wealth of the province is not being shared with First Nations and Métis peoples. Indeed, 45% of the province’s Aboriginal children live in poverty. That’s over three times the poverty rate for non-Aboriginal children.
Resource sharing would help close the economic gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Since Saskatchewan’s wealth comes mainly from the exploitation of resources on Aboriginal land, it would also be a first step in righting a historical wrong.
Where does your party stand on the development of tar sands in Saskatchewan?
Oilsands Quest, a Calgary-based company, plans to start developing Saskatchewan’s first commercial tar sands project in the near future.
Despite claims to the contrary, there is nothing ethical about tar sands oil, which is an environmental, human, and ethical catastrophe.
Tar sands production generates as much as 20% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil. It is the single biggest contributor to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. According to NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, the continued development of tar sands is likely to trigger irreversible climate change.
- It takes 3-7 barrels of water to produce a single barrel of tar sands oil.
- Tar sands production causes acid rain. Acid rain caused by Alberta tar sands production is already pouring down on Saskatchewan, causing damage to the ecosystem and human health.
To find out more about tar sands oil, visit the website of the Pembina Institute: Pembina.org/oil-sands
Are you committed to establishing a long-term plan, with long-term funding, to substantially increase the number of regulated early-learning and childcare spaces in the province?
Saskatchewan ranks last among the provinces in providing regulated childcare spaces, according to a recently released YWCA study. A 2008 study shows that only 9.1% of young Saskatchewan children have access to regulated childcare, less than half the national average. Quality buildings and trained staff are also in short supply.
Early childhood education matters:
- Social Benefits: Studies show that high quality early childhood education boosts literacy, high school graduation rates, postsecondary participation, and adult productivity. It thus increases equality.
- Economic Benefits: Quality early childhood education also pays huge economic dividends. It is estimated that $1 invested in the early years saves between $3 and $9 in future spending on health, social assistance, and criminal justice systems. According to another estimation, investment in early childhood education generates a long-term annual return of 12.2%. In other words, kids outperform government bonds and equities by a long shot.