Report card grades Sask. political parties on platforms for LGBTQ issues
Only 3 of 6 parties responded to questions asked by OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Pride
The Saskatchewan Party earned a C– for its commitments to, and support for, the LGBTQ2+ community in the upcoming election, according to a report card developed by two community groups in Saskatoon.
OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Pride teamed up to create a non-partisan report card that grades provincial political parties' platforms toward LGBTQ2+ issues. The goal of the report card is to inform the community of each party's promises ahead of election day on Oct. 26.
"As an organization and as 2SLGBTQ [two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender, queer and questioning] people in Saskatchewan, at this point, we can't afford to not be involved with politics," said Krystal Nieckar, acting executive director of OUTSaskatoon.
Several questions were sent to six parties registered in the upcoming election.
Answers were graded on several factors, including whether the parties offered a clear plan, and whether that plan positively impacts the LGBTQ2+ community.
Three out of six parties — the Saskatchewan Liberals, the Progressive Conservatives and the Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan — did not respond, earning each a failing grade.
The Green Party, NDP and the Saskatchewan Party responded a week ago.
The NDP's plan earned an A–, the top mark. The Greens followed with a B+, and the Saskatchewan Party was given a C–.
OUTSaskatoon released the answers provided to each question from the responding parties.
Answers from the Sask. Party, which is seeking a fourth consecutive term, focused more on what it has done to date than its plans if re-elected.
The Sask. Party pointed to the fact that Scott Moe was the first Saskatchewan premier to march in a Pride parade, as well as amendments made to the Vital Statistics Act, and $435 million earmarked for mental health and addictions services in the current fiscal budget, among other things.
But the party did not give credit to the gender diverse community for its role in those actions, Nieckar noted.
The only commitment the party offered was that, within a year of re-election, it would review how to give Saskatchewanians the option to mark an "X" for gender on their health cards.
NDP promises immediate suicide prevention bill
The Saskatchewan NDP said it would immediately legislate a suicide prevention strategy and would budget $5 million for it.
Doyle Vermette, the incumbent NDP MLA for Cumberland, tried pushing a similar bill through the legislative assembly earlier this year, which would have required the provincial government to create a strategy that recognizes suicide as public health issue, but it was voted down in June.
The NDP has also promised to open mental health emergency rooms in Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw, and spend an extra $10 million on addiction treatment support.
The party's mental health and addictions plan would involve collaborating with the federal government and Indigenous governments to close the equity gap in education, employment and the health care and justice systems, the party said in its report card response.
If elected, the party said it would also implement legislation that allows students to form gay-straight alliances, and that it is currently working with leaders of the LGBTQ2+ community to ensure the province's institutions and official documents are inclusive to the identities of all Saskatchewanians.
Green Party would remove blood donation ban
The Saskatchewan Green Party, in its response to the report card questions, said it would get rid of a probation period during which men who have had sex with other men aren't allowed to donate blood.
Originally, men had to go five years without sexual activity with another man before they could donate blood. The wait time was dropped to one year in 2016. In May 2019, Health Canada approved a request from Canadian Blood Services to reduce the probation period to three months.
"The number of men who have sex with men, who want to be able to donate blood but who aren't able to because of the discrimination associated with that, is unfair and unjust," said Nieckar.
"There's always that call [for blood donations], and we're not tapping into a group of individuals who are ready and willing to donate blood. That's really unfortunate."
The Greens also said they would push to have more surgeries for LGBTQ people covered under the Saskatchewan Health Plan, and would allow transgender inmates to choose which prison population they join, based on the gender with which they most closely identify.
The party says it also wants Pride to be celebrated in all schools, and for Pride Day to be a provincial holiday. It also wants legislation in place that ensures members of the LGBTQ2+ community cannot be discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation.
The party also wants "they/them" to be an available option for indicating gender on provincial documentation.
Nieckar said she appreciates the promises for mental health supports and identification, but ultimately wants to see a party that reflects the diversity of Saskatchewan, and a candidate who follows through with their promises once elected.
Election day is Oct. 26. Advanced polls are open until Friday, from noon to 8 p.m. each day.