Sask. leaders’ debate covers COVID-19 recovery plans, mental health supports

The leaders of the Saskatchewan Party and Saskatchewan NDP went head-to-head in Wednesday night’s televised leaders’ debate from the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan building in Regina.

It was the first time in Scott Moe and Ryan Meili’s political careers they took part in a debate as leaders of their respective parties. For under an hour, the pair squared off in an attempt to convince voters to make the right choice on election day.

The debate covered numerous topics affecting the province and currently on the minds of residents. COVID-19, relationships with Indigenous people, the economy and mental health and addictions were some of the reoccurring themes Meili and Moe argued over.

Following the debate, the Sask. Party said they believe leader Scott Moe did enough during the debate to show they are the clear choice to win the election.

While Moe spoke on his party’s plan which includes balancing the province’s budget by 2024, he also targeted the NDP by saying they have $4 billion in unaccounted spending and a total spending plan of $6.7 billion dollars in their election plan.

He said it’s not a line of attack, but a line of fact.

“We didn’t think we would have to cost the opposition’s platform, but we did,” started Moe. “We found that in addition to the $2.7 billion in identified deficit spending they have put forward, there is an additional $4 billion there.”

“We thought Saskatchewan people would like to take a look at that, which is why we made it available on our website.”

Overall, Moe expressed that the debate was a success.

“Both parties were able to put their policies out to the people of the province,” added Moe. “So in my opinion, I think the real winners this evening were the people of the province because they got to hear from both leaders their visions for the province.”

The NDP shared post-debate that every penny under their plan has been costed, accounted for and has been signed off by an economist. They noted how capital expenditures listed in their strategy will be paid for by “reprioritizing funds within the existing SaskBuilds capital plan, which includes $1.3 billion that is totally unallocated.”

Reflecting on their leader’s showing, the Saskatchewan NDP felt Ryan Meili was the clear winner versus Moe.

Meili continued his push on the Sask. Party’s plan for cuts, privatization and austerity while suggesting a NDP government would make schools safer and create good jobs for Saskatchewan families.

He said he was able to get across most of his party’s main points in their plan, but he would have liked to touch a little more on healthcare.

“We have seen wait times grow and grow under Mr. Moe. People are waiting five days in the hallway in the emergency room at the Pasqua Hospital in Regina,” mentioned Meili.

“We’ve committed to investing in the healthcare professionals to bring down those wait times and make sure people get the care they need when they need it.”

When asked on his thoughts about how the debate went, Meili said it went better than he could have hoped.

“I think it was the kind of format where people got a clear look and listen to the difference between the two parties and get a real sense of our plan and our approach,” he stated. “I’m really hopeful they will respond well to what we had to say.”

The 2020 Saskatchewan election takes place on Monday, October 26.

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