Premier Scott Moe was grilled on his trip to Ottawa by the provincial opposition Wednesday during question period.
Moe attended meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal leader of the opposition Andrew Scheer representing Saskatchewan interests such as the federal carbon tax, equalization, and western separation.
Moe says he does not believe western separation is a good way forward. “I most certainly am going to engage with the people I represent across this province to ensure they are being represented, not only in Ottawa, but being represented in foreign markets all across the world and being represented so we can continue to grow and prosper as a Saskatchewan economy and continue to attract people to live here.”
Provincial NDP leader Ryan Meili questioned the premier on what benefit the province will see from this trip, adding it was good to see the premier seeing a need for a grain drying carbon tax rebate.
Moe says no specifics have been discussed on enhancing provincial autonomy. “We are considering, I would say, that all items are on the table when it comes to ensuring that Saskatchewan is a strong province. A strong province within the nation of Canada.”
Meili later added he was disappointed in both the premier and Prime Minister, saying a more collaborative approach from both sides would have been more productive.
The NDP Leader says Moe has yet to rid himself of western separation rhetoric, which he feels is a bad thing for Saskatchewan to consider. “If the Saskatchewan Party and Mr. Moe would make it 100 percent clear that there is no interest in separation, I would be satisfied. I don’t want this political opportunity because it’s bad for Saskatchewan. That’s what I wish that we would see from Mr. Moe, that leadership to say no this is not the right conversation to be having.”
Moe says he does not believe western separation is the answer, but respects and understands.
Bargaining continues between province and STF
The provincial government announced an update in negotiations with teachers Wednesday.
The government trustee bargaining committee and the Saskatchewan teachers federation have met 10 times since bargaining began, but are currently stuck on a couple of points.
Education minister Gord Wyant said he remains hopeful good faith negotiations are taking place at the table.
“The STF had indicated from the very beginning that they were going to be public with their positions at the bargaining table, so what we did was simply release our current position between the two parties,” Wyant said. “We continue to be hopeful that good face negotions will result in a good contract for both sides.”
However, Wyant said the discussion of strike has not begun.
“There’s been no indication that either party is prepared to declare an impasse in negotiations, so we are continuing to be hopeful that with the negotiations that are going on the table,” Wyant said. “The government feels that the contact offer that’s been made to teachers is a fair one. We just continue hope that those negotiations continue.”
Wyant said a fair offer has been put on the table in his opinion.
“There’s always ways to continue to negotiate and find different ways to come to a negotiated settlement,” Wyant said. “We are hopeful that will happen.”
The proposed deal would see each teacher receive a 15 hundred dollar one-time payment in 2019 to go with their salary, along with two percent raises in each of the next two years.