sk-legislature

Saskatchewan MLAs return to the legislature for the fall session.

The business of the legislature is set to resume Wednesday afternoon with a formal speech from the Throne, where the Saskatchewan Party government outlines its priorities.

The NDP, in opposition, says it will continue to press the government to improve the care for seniors, especially those who live in long-term care facilities.

Opposition leader Cam Broten illustrated the importance of the issue by recounting how one woman he met recently, in Melfort, was fearful of ending up in long-term care.

"'If it gets to the point where I need to go into long-term care, I want them to hit me over the head with a shovel,'" Broten quoted the woman as saying.

Broten said the woman's concerns were based on real experiences.

"She wasn't saying it as a joke. It was a dead serious statement because of the experiences that she knew about and had experienced with her family," Broten added.

The government has said it is addressing issues that have arisen in the long-term care sector and has earmarked $10 million for urgent matters. The province has also said it is building more than a dozen new care homes.

Broten, however, is critical of the government's move.

"The drop in a bucket response that we've seen is not addressing staffing, which is identified as a root cause for problems throughout the province," Broten said.

For his part, Premier Brad Wall said the fall session will see the government focus on how growth in the province creates opportunities and challenges.

"We have emergency room over-capacity issues in our major centres," Wall noted. "Part of this is driven by -- still -- by a lot of seniors who are in acute care where they should be in appropriate long-term care or even better, home care."

Wall said another issue he has seen concerns the need for more language support in classrooms for people who's first language is not English.

"One teacher put it to me pretty bluntly," Wall said, "'I have 35 kids in the class and one assistant and I'm looking out at my students and I'm pretty sure that a third of them - up to a third of them - are really struggling to understand what I'm saying'. That's an issue."

On Tuesday, in Saskatoon, Wall announced a plan for nine new schools to be built using a public-private partnership approach.

The opposition NDP noted that in other provinces which have used the P3 model, it turned out to be a more expensive way to build.

(With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger)