Regina – A guaranteed liveable income, pharmacare, dental care, grants for small farmers, and an end to the coal and oil and gas industries are all key parts of the Saskatchewan Green Party platform for this election.
Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter discussed her party’s platform by phone from Regina on Oct. 16, where she is running in the Regina-Elphinstone riding. Both her son, Isaiah Hunter, and daughter, North Hunter, are among the Green’s 60 candidates running across the province’s 61 ridings. Hunter said she has visited all 61 ridings in this campaign, including recently door-knocking in Estevan.
On Oct. 19, the party put out a press release noting, “In this election the Saskatchewan Green Party is fielding nine 2SLGBTQ candidates, including one transgender candidate. Almost one quarter are Indigenous and over half our candidates are women.”
Guaranteed livable income
Hunter said, “My biggest thing that I am really advocating for is a guaranteed livable income.”
She said the provincial governments’ programs are very administrative heavy. She liked how the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was rolled out and reached people in a time of crisis, and how it was similar to a guaranteed livable income. It would go to the lowest financial bracket in society.
“It would mean that people on the SAID (Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability) program and on welfare, old age security, disability, everyone in those kind of brackets would actually be brought up to that $2,000 a month, that the CERB decided is what we need in order to survive.”
She said it would be a provincial program, paid by provincial dollars.
The next major point is expanding universal Medicare, according to Hunter. The Greens would, “bring in Universal dental care, mental health care, pharmacare, so that prescription drugs were actually purchased in bulk by the provincial government.”
Hunter said, “My biggest platform point is that we need to solve the climate crisis here in Saskatchewan. If it wasn't for Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada with meeting its IPCC agreements, and the agreements of the Paris Accord. We need to lower carbon emissions. We need 60 per cent reductions within a four-year term, and 100 per cent renewable energy within 10 years. And this will actually stimulate the economy. The retrofitting and all the work that will be need to be done in order to make this happen – a huge economic boon to our province.”
She did not feel carbon capture and storage was a viable alternative. Hunter said, “Oil and gas have a very limited lifetime, and rather than trying to capture carbon, which is not really the best solution for this problem, I really would like to see the government bring back in our solar net metering program.”
She pointed to Europe, South America and Costa Rica are places where solar and wind have been used extensively.
“So saying that we can't do it in Saskatchewan, people always say that's impossible. Well, my kids and I lived completely off grid in a Mongolian yurt, through incredibly cold to Saskatchewan winter, using nothing but solar, so I know for a fact that it's possible. We weren't living in the dark, barely scraping by, totally miserable. We were actually frivolously using our extra solar and watching Disney movies on a little video player. So I know, for a fact that, it's possible, and that we could have a solar panel on every roof in this province. There is enough sun.”
Deficits and revenue
The entire 26-page platform document does not mention the word “deficit” once. It only mentions revenue once, referring to “an initial fee on the CO2 content of fossil fuels, increasing every year.”
However, the platform speaks of grants to small farmers, dental care and pharmacare, as well as a guaranteed living income, paid for by the province, not the federal government.
Asked where the money would come from, Hunter said that the provincial equivalent of the Parliamentary Budget Officer would deal with that. “I know that it is possible to get things and make things happen when people want to. If the current government is able to invest in mega projects and spend that amount of money, then investing in people and the environment is something that we can do, if the will is there.”
Asked if the revenue would come from PST increases, corporate income tax, personal income tax, or fees, Hunter replied, “I would not increase the personal income tax. I currently find that people in the bottom income bracket, many people I know, are pursued relentlessly for small amounts of tax dollars. And I would like corporations to pay their fair share.
“I like to end subsidies to large corporations and tax the rich, yes.”
She said her party is run by volunteers and she doesn’t have a paid auditor.
No oil, gas, coal, or internal combustion vehicles
The platform states Green MLAs will “end all exploration of oil and gas in Saskatchewan, including fracking,” as well as “reduce our reliance on coal immediately.”
There are several points on a “just transition framework for oil, gas and coal sector workers.”
Hunter’s website, naomihunter.ca, states they would, “within 10 years ban the purchase of new internal combustion engine vehicles.”
Hunter said, “There is no economy on a good planet, and my daughter is 21 years old is more likely to die of climate change than old age. (We) need to deal with this crisis as an all hands on deck process. I know it's scary. I understand how fearful it must make people in the industry that has helped build this province. However, many oil and gas workers also acknowledge that if it was possible to have the same good paying jobs that they have in the oil and gas industry and could transition over to working in geothermal or some of the other options that abandoned oil wells present, that they certainly would be open to that because they to love their children if we love our children above all else, need to make sure we hold to 1.5 degrees.”
Hunter says abandoned oil wells can be converted to geothermal.
Asked if there were 600 horsepower tractors that could run off electrical power 24 hours a day, for days on end, as many operations do during seeding, she said, “I can tell you that definitely pickup trucks and semi trucks can run on solar. This is a quick Google search question, and this one I can be incredibly confident that it's even available in North America.”
Hunter said, “The climate crisis is not waiting around. We need to transition to a clean energy economy. We need to do it now, for the future life of this planet, and our future generations. It’s an all hands on deck crisis.”