Saskatchewan

Sask. NDP raises questions about Premier Scott Moe's connection with WE Charity

The Saskatchewan NDP is questioning a trip with ties to the WE Charity that Premier Scott Moe took in December 2019 and a $260,000 non-competitive contract for the charity to "promote student well-being" in schools. 

Province says Moe went on WE Charity trip at his own expense

The Saskatchewan Party said Premier Scott Moe and his wife did go on a WE Charity trip to Kenya in December 2019, but they went at their own expense and were not paid for their participation. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

The Saskatchewan NDP is questioning a trip with ties to the WE charity that Premier Scott Moe took in December 2019 and a $260,000 non-competitive contract for the charity to "promote student well-being" in Saskatchewan schools.

"The timeline of events raises serious questions about the propriety and value of this contract," said NDP education critic Carla Beck in a news release Tuesday.

"Who made the decision to hand WE Charity this contract, what is it intended to deliver for Saskatchewan students, and why did the Sask. Party choose a Trudeau-linked, Toronto-based charity to develop materials for our schools instead of actually addressing the understaffing and under-resourcing they've caused?"

The NDP's questions come the day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for not recusing himself from cabinet discussions about awarding WE Charity a multi-million dollar contract to administer the federal government's summer student grants program.

That apology came after it was revealed members of the prime minister's family were paid more than $300,000 by WE and its entities for speaking engagements over the last four years.

The Saskatchewan Party said Moe and his wife did go on the December 2019 WE Charity trip to Kenya, but that they went at their own expense and were not paid for their participation.

"There is no conflict here, as has been assessed by the conflict of interest commissioner, and I truly believe there most certainly isn't," Moe said Tuesday at a press conference.

He also said this situation is very different than what's happening at the federal level.

"One, I didn't receive any money, two, I approached our conflict of interest commissioner immediately before doing anything on the personal side with anyone that's associated with this foundation, and three, there's a number of other provinces that have already moved on this pilot program" for student well-being, he said.

The government said an advanced contract award notice, or ACAN, for a one-year mental health pilot of the WE Well-being Program closed on May 29, 2020.

"An ACAN is typically used within the student wellness portfolio when there is evidence that a supplier provides a unique, reliable service that fits the ministry's requirements and complements the suite of resources the ministry provides in a specific area," the government said in a statement.

The agreement hasn't been signed because "due diligence" measures continue.

Moe said he was made aware of the contract proposal in the late summer or early fall of 2019, but didn't have further involvement in the procurement process or contract negotiations.

He said the government isn't interested in the project just because WE Charity is behind it, but because it could be an opportunity for the government to expand the tools it has to deal with mental health issues, particularly in children.

"The support that we have as a family for the WE Foundation is quite a separate conversation from this, for sure. The two are not tied in any way," Moe said.

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