Sask. NDP calling on government to reopen Crown Payment Deferral Program to help people recovering from pandemic

The Saskatchewan NDP are calling on the province to prioritize helping families and businesses who missed Crown utility payments during the pandemic, instead of rebranding.

SaskPower Critic Aleana Young says it seems the government is trying to make a profit on Saskatchewan residents instead of helping them recover.

“This is the last thing families and businesses need right now, and this is not what our Crowns are designed to do,” said Young. “Crowns are designed to return money and value and benefit to the people of Saskatchewan, not charge them compounding interest rates. We shouldn’t be kicking people when they’re down, trying to make money off them when they’re trying to get back on their feet.”

Young says the pandemic has worsened since payments resumed in September of 2020, adding many are struggling to pay the bill right now.

NDP Leader Ryan Meili says instead of helping people with the Crowns, the Sask Party is trying to politicize them.

“We’ve learned this Sask Party government, their big plan, is to spend tens of millions of dollars on a manipulative rebranding project to make all the Crowns look like the Sask Party’s colours,” said Meili. These Crowns belong to the people of Saskatchewan, they don’t belong to Scott Moe, and they’re not to be used for his cynical political games.”

Meili wants the government to reopen the Payment Deferral Program retroactively to September 2020, and to stop charging interest on deferred payments.

He adds the government is punishing the exact people the Crowns are supposed to help.

“People are having a hard time, these are the very people who were doing bad enough that they said I’m not going to be able my phone bill, my power bill, my heat now,” said Meili. “To now have these come back and say ‘yeah, we know you were in trouble” then we’re going to charge you credit card interest rates, 18 percent, on what you owe us. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do”.

The Province said in a statement that Saskatchewan’s Crowns have continued to provide exemplary service and assistance through the pandemic, adding Saskatchewan residents pay the lowest Crown utility rates in the country.

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