Saskatchewan

Sask. NDP boycott meeting to approve MLA wage cuts

The Saskatchewan government still hasn't signed off on a pay cut for MLAs, after the meeting to make it happen was boycotted by the Opposition earlier today.

Both parties agree on 3.5% cut for MLAs, disagree on further public sector wage cuts

NDP MLA David Forbes said the boycott was over cuts to other public sector wages. (CBC)

The Saskatchewan government still hasn't signed off on a pay cut for members of its legislative assembly, after the meeting to make it happen was boycotted by the Opposition earlier today. 

A legislative board was supposed to vote this morning on a 3.5 per cent pay cut for all MLAs. Yesterday, both the governing Saskatchewan Party and Saskatchewan's New Democratic Party agreed on the cuts.

However, the NDP members didn't attend the meeting, saying the Saskatchewan Party didn't agree to its requests to not cut public sector wages further.

"While we accept the pay cut, we cannot in any way be seen to rubber stamp a scheme by this government, that's got us in this situation, to force a wage cut on working families, men and women in this province," said board member and NDP MLA David Forbes.

The NDP is also requesting a 20 per cent reduction in top-up allowances for cabinet ministers, as well as downsizing the 61-member legislature by five MLAs. 

The Saskatchewan Party holds a majority in the legislative board, so would have easily won a vote. But without the NDP MLAs, the meeting didn't reach quorum. 

'Playing games'

The boycott didn't sit well with the Saskatchewan Party, and both sides accused the other of playing games. 

Saskatchewan Party MLA Jeremy Harrison called the NDP's meeting boycott 'ridiculous.' (CBC)

"Now the NDP have gone on strike to block this pay cut. It's absolutely ridiculous," board member and Saskatchewan Party MLA Jeremy Harrison said in a press release. 

The NDP has since sent out a letter committing to an immediate 3.5 per cent salary cut for its own caucus members. 

The government does have the mechanism to be able to make this happen.- Jeremy Harrison, Sask. Party MLA

Forbes defended the NDP's boycott as a way to make their requests heard. 

"We want to see the other demands that we have acted on and we think they're important ones and they're significant. You know, it was the cabinet that got us into this mess," Forbes said. 

Aside from MLA wages, the government is also looking to cut the pay of public-sector employees, ranging from nurses to teachers. In total, the cuts would mean $250 million in savings for the government, helping to pay off a $1.2-billion deficit in the province. 

Harrison said the MLA pay cut will happen regardless of the boycott.

"The government does have the mechanism to be able to make this happen. We would prefer to do this in a collaborative way but if the Opposition refused to cooperate and refused to come to board of internal economy meetings, we'll find another way to make it happen," Harrison said. 

With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger

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