If elected, NDP's Cam Broten promises to cut 6 MLAs at Sask. Legislature

The NDP in Saskatchewan is promising to reduce the number of MLAs in the Legislature, to 55 from 61, if elected.

NDP would reduce seats in Legislature to 55 (from 61)

People in Saskatchewan will elect 61 MLAs in the upcoming provincial election. NDP leader Cam Broten says that is six too many. (The Canadian Press)

The NDP in Saskatchewan is promising to reduce the number of MLAs in the Legislature, to 55 from 61, if elected.

The campaign pledge was announced Friday by leader Cam Broten.

The NDP had been critical of the increase in the number of MLAs, after an additional three seats were added for the 2016 vote, by the Saskatchewan Party government of Brad Wall.

Broten promised to roll back that increase of three and to go further, landing at 55 representatives.

"No one thinks we need more politicians in Regina," Broten said in a statement about the campaign promise. 

He said reducing the number of MLAs would save some money.

"[Saskatchewan Party leader Brad Wall] is running a deficit of at least $427 million," Broten said. "He's making cuts to services people count on — from classrooms to homeless shelters — but he's ramping up spending on politicians. Those are some messed up priorities."

According to the NDP, reducing the number of elected members would save on salaries and the cost of support staff and other expenses.

"The Sask. Party's change to add three more MLAs can't be reversed until the next election, but in the next term the NDP would save $5.5 million by cutting the size of the legislature," the NDP noted in background material about the promise. The savings would be achieved over the course of four years.

"This is about priorities, dollars and cents and common sense," Broten said. "It's unacceptable that Mr. Wall chose to spend millions more on three extra MLAs."

MLA costs trimmed, Sask. Party notes

The Saskatchewan Party campaign responded to Broten's observations by noting that the budget for MLA offices and caucus support had been reduced by five per cent. That reduction was enough, the party said, to make the addition of three MLAs "cost neutral".

The note from the Saskatchewan Party also pointed out that NDP members of the committee that considered the office budget voted against it.

The number of MLAs has moved up, and sometimes down, over time.

According to various reference materials, the number of seats in the Saskatchewan Legislature has varied. In the first election, in 1905, there were 25 MLAs. The most number of MLAs in the legislature followed the 1991 election when there were 66.

When the most recent addition of MLAs was announced, the government said more members were needed because of population growth.

The Saskatchewan Party noted that the province's population has increased by 13 per cent since the last election in 2007.

Saskatchewan voters go to the polls April 4.


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