(Adam Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Saskatchewan's Opposition is calling on the province to change the date for the introduction of this year's budget because it falls on the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
But Premier Scott Moe says the budget will be delivered as scheduled.
The Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly's spring sitting is scheduled to begin on April 6 with the tabling of the 2021-22 budget.
NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon said it would be insensitive and inappropriate to introduce the budget on that day.
"It represents indescribable loss for the families involved and for the community involved and for the team," Wotherspoon said. "It really did shake the province.You know, we're three years on from [the tragedy], but it's pretty critical that it's given it's due to properly remember and recognize those lives and the impact of all those that are affected."
He said a family member reached out to him expressing concerns about the matter.
"Listening to that family, I just wholeheartedly agree that it would be insensitive to hold this budget and to start the session on that day."
Wotherspoon said whether or not it is just an oversight by the government, the Opposition would like to see the date moved forward.
"We're calling on the government to do the right thing. And we're fully prepared to work with government to adjust and make that happen."
Premier says finance minister understands weight of tragedy
Moe said Finance Minister Donna Harpauer — who is also the MLA for Humboldt — will deliver the budget as scheduled.
Moe said Harpauer represents the Humboldt area and understands the weight of the tragedy on the community, as she did three years ago when the crash happened.
At the time, he said, he offered that she could delay presenting that year's budget, which was set for within a week of the collision, but "she wouldn't hear of it."
"I know for certain that our minister of finance when she delivers the budget this spring will also be honouring those families, all of those impacted," said Moe.
"She'll have her [hockey] sticks outside her door. We'll have them outside of the legislative assembly."
The premier also suggested that instead of circulating a statement to the media, Wotherspoon could have contacted Harpauer directly with his concerns.
Looking toward the budget
Wotherspoon said when it comes to the budget there needs to be investment in the communities, from the classrooms to mental health and addictions to community-based organizations.
"We have a lot of community based organizations that are hanging on by a thread right now that do such vital work in this province. And so they need to be supported," he said. "Then importantly, we need all the resources, of course, to contain the virus and to ensure successful vaccination and to get us back into a recovery."
Wotherspoon said the NDP is also calling on the government to remove the PST from construction.
A six per cent Provincial Sales Tax has applied to construction in Saskatchewan since April 1, 2017.
Wotherspoon said the tax has hurt the economy and cost jobs.