SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan Party will improve services for D/deaf and Deafblind residents in the province if re-elected, Leader Scott Moe announced Saturday.

“Our government’s goal is to make Saskatchewan the best place in Canada for persons living with a disability,” Moe said in a media release. 

Deafblindness is the combined loss of both vision and hearing, meaning neither sense can be used to accurately gather information. People who are Deafblind can be assisted by trained professionals called intervenors, who act as their “eyes” and “ears,” providing specialized communications and supports. 

Moe pointed to his party’s 2020-2021 budget, announced Friday, which includes funding for Deafblind Community Services in Saskatchewan for one Deafblind intervenor, one American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, two sign support professionals, and enhancing their 24-hour interpreter line to include access to intervener services.

Moe said if re-elected, his party would continue to increase those supports over the next three years. 

The Saskatchewan Party’s platform commitment is based on a joint proposal from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, the release said. 

Supports will include three additional Deafblind intervenors, three new ASL interpreters, one additional sign support professional and one case manager. 

It will cost $1 million per year when fully implemented, according to the release.

Shortly after the announcement was made, the NDP Party sent out an email to media with the subject line “reality check,” pointing to the Saskatchewan Party’s cuts to health services for 40,000 people who need hearing aids. 

In April 2017, the Saskatchewan Party announced it would  axe the Hearing Aid Plan  except for people who quality as low income residents. At the time, the party said cutting the program would save $3 million.