"This is another cash grab by this government and unfortunately, it is Saskatchewan residents who pay the price for the government's dishonesty.” — Bob Bymoen, SGEU President
Regina (05 April 2019) — As Saskatchewan residents get ready to plan their summer camping trips around the province, yet another set of increases in vehicle entry and camping fees shows that the Sask Party government is gouging residents while failing to reinvest the money into our provincial parks.
Funding for parks down, even while fees hiked
Since 2013, a series of fee hikes by the government have dramatically increased the costs of camping at Saskatchewan provincial parks. As an example, fees for a seasonal economy site have increased 86 per cent in the past 6 years. Nightly camping fees for a full-service site have increased by 62 per cent, and weekly vehicle entry fees have increased by 60 per cent.
According to Minh Truong, Director of Park Experiences with the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport, recent fee increases are due entirely to increased park operating costs. But, according to the government’s own annual reports, since 2013 the total spending on parks programs, capital projects and preventative maintenance is actually down by over 9 per cent.
“We have heard this government say they are investing in our parks, but the reality is the amount of money they’ve put into our parks has dropped since 2013. This is nothing but the Sask Party government telling the public one thing while doing the complete opposite. As we often see with this government, the devil is in the details. This is another cash grab by this government and unfortunately, it is Saskatchewan residents who pay the price for their dishonesty,” said Bob Bymoen, President of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE).
Sask Party privatizing parks fails the public
Further, over the past few decades, the Sask Party government has privatized camp sites at Cypress Hills, sold off publicly-operated rental cabins at Greenwater Lake, allowed a B.C. company to build and operate a marina at Blackstrap Provincial Park, and allowed a private security company to provide enforcement services in Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park.
“Provincial parks belong to all Saskatchewan residents and they shouldn’t be seen as a money maker for this government or select private companies. Any increase in fees should be directly reinvested back into our parks, the employees who operate them, and the services and infrastructure that benefit all users,” said Bymoen.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE