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Legislative Report (8 November 2006)

Legislative Report

8 November 2006

NDP Avoids Tough Questions on Oyate

Recently, one particular issue has been weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of people in this province. That issue is the safety of some of our most vulnerable young girls.

The Oyate Safe was supposed to be a haven for girls trying to get away from life on the street. Following the final report by the all-party committee on preventing the abuse and exploitation of children through the sex trade, the NDP government, in partnership with the Oyate Board, set up the safe house to provide a safe environment for vulnerable girls.

But in an investigative media report that aired this spring, revealed the Oyate Safe House was not a safe at all. When Minister of Community Resources Buckley Belanger was questioned by reporters if he knew about any of the wrongdoings at the safe house, he said he was unaware of any problems.

The Official Opposition Saskatchewan Party learned through documents created by the department of Community Resources that Minister Belanger was in fact briefed on many of the failures and wrongdoings but did nothing to close the safe house until after the failures of the house were made public through the media.

Minister Belanger is the third NDP minister who has dropped the ball on this file. For instance, the NDP government failed to stop the Oyate Safe House when it learned of numerous problems throughout the course of the three-year existence of the safe house, including:

  1. Hiring an individual with a history of violent crime;
  2. Failing to conduct regular criminal checks;
  3. Failing to prevent further sexual exploitation while children were in the safe house;
  4. The cancellation the official launch of the safe house because a senior official involved in the creation of the safe house was charged and arrested for sexual involvement with a minor; and,
  5. Allegations from a former executive director about nepotism, the favouring of relatives, inappropriate payments to board members and relatives, and other financial irregularities.
When the Saskatchewan Party heard of the wrongdoings, we called upon the Provincial Children’s Advocate and the Provincial Auditor to investigate. They both released scathing reports. If it weren’t for the Sask Party’s leadership on this issue, facts would have remained hidden by the NDP government.

It’s clear the current minister, his predecessors and the NDP government knew about the problems in Oyate but failed to act, and this inaction failed the most vulnerable of our society – young girls, who were living on street and looking for a safe place to go.

Minister Belanger has also failed to answer numerous questions in the legislative assembly and has refused to come before the Public Accounts committee to answer questions. To top all off, this week, the NDP used its majority on a legislative committee to prevent the former deputy minister of Community Resources from testifying as a witness – something those same members had approved unanimously just weeks earlier.

It’s starting to look like there’s a lot that the NDP government doesn’t want the public to know. And it’s time to start asking, what are they hiding?

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Glen.

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