David Forbes (politician)

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David Forbes

Member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly
for Saskatoon Centre
Saskatoon Idylwyld (2001-2003)
Assumed office
November 8, 2001
Preceded byJanice MacKinnon
Personal details
Born1956 (age 63–64)
Political partyNew Democratic Party
ResidenceSaskatoon, Saskatchewan

David Forbes (born 1956) is a Canadian provincial politician.[1] He is the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan for the constituency of Saskatoon Centre.[2] Forbes serves as the Opposition critic for Labour, Housing, Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, Saskatchewan Worker's Compensation Board, and Diversity, Equality and Human Rights.[3]

Family life and education[edit]

Before entering politics, Forbes taught for 18 years in both Saskatoon and rural Saskatchewan. He received his Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina (with Distinction, 1982) and a Master's degree in Education Administration from the University of Saskatchewan (1996). Forbes is currently on leave from the Saskatoon Public School Division where he held many positions with the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) and the Saskatoon Teachers' Association.

Forbes has been a volunteer for his local community association, the Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Fest, and as a coach of youth football and softball. He is a past president of Cross Country Saskatchewan and the Nordic Ski Club of Saskatoon.

Forbes was raised in a farming family at Mortlach, Saskatchewan. Forbes is married with three grown children and two grandchildren.

Political life[edit]

2001 by-election[edit]

Forbes was first elected in a by-election for Saskatoon Idylwyld in November 2001 with 57.09% of the vote.[4] During his time as a back-bencher, Forbes was Legislative Secretary for School PLUS and sat on the Standing Committees for the Crown Corporations and Agriculture.

In the fall of 2002, Forbes served as vice-chair of the Premier's Voluntary Sector, which produced Saskatchewan's Voluntary Sector: Reflecting Our Strength.

2003-2006: Minister of Environment[edit]

Before the 2003 election the Saskatoon Idylwyld constituency was dissolved and the Saskatoon Centre constituency was created. David Forbes ran in the new constituency in the 2003 Saskatchewan general election winning the seat with 61.85% of the vote[5]

Forbes was appointed to Executive Council as Minister of Environment, with responsibilities for the Office of Energy Conservation and the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. During his tenure, he released Caring for Natural Environments: A Biodiversity Action Plan for Saskatchewan's Future 2004-2009, the first major environmental blueprint in Western Canada. Other initiatives included Saskatchewan's Green Strategy,[6] Conserving our Water, A Water Conservation Plan for Saskatchewan[7] and The Great Sand Hills Land Use Strategy. Under Forbes' direction, a greater proportion of the Great Sand Hills were protected from 94.5 to 362.6 square kilometres creating a balance between ecological protection and gas and natural resource development.[8]

In 2003, Forbes was presented the Special Merit Award for service and support to Saskatoon's lesbian and gay community at the Gay and Lesbian Awards (GALA).

2006-2007: Minister of Labour[edit]

On February 3, 2006, Forbes was appointed Minister of Labour, with responsibilities for SaskWater. During his time as Labour Minister, advancements were seen in the fight against bullying in the workplace. "Effective on October 1, 2007, the statutory definition of harassment in Saskatchewan was expanded to include personal harassment in the workplace, such as the abuse of power and bullying, under amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.[9] In addition to broadening the definition of harassment, a special adjudicator position was created to resolve harassment appeals independently."[10]

As Minister of Labour, Forbes was responsible for implementing Saskatchewan's newest holiday - Family Day[11] and the Improving Work Opportunities Report[12] which included raising the provincial minimum wage to LICO standards. Many workplace safety improvements such as the anti-harassment unit and introducing labour standards in the North also took place during his time as Minister of Labour.

2007-2011: Opposition Critic[edit]

In November 2007, Forbes was again elected as the MLA for the Saskatoon Centre constituency with 57.36% of the vote.[13] The Saskatchewan Party won control of the Saskatchewan government and the Saskatchewan NDP became the official opposition. David Forbes sat as the Opposition critic for Social Services, Disabilities, Housing and the Community Based Organization Sector.[3]

In November 2010, Forbes introduced a Private Member's Bill to protect service animals, such as guide dogs and police dogs. One week after introducing this bill it became law as a part of The Animal Protection Act.[14]

In April 2011, Forbes introduced a second Private Member's Bill, "The Saskatchewan Respectful Language Act," which would see phrases and words such as 'mental retardation,' 'retarded' or 'retard' found in government legislation, regulations and materials replaces with the use of 'intellectual disability.'[15] The law was based on President Barack Obama's 'Rosa's Law.' The legislation was re-introduced by government and passed into law on May 18, 2011.[16] Forbes received the Francis Schaan Award from People First Saskatchewan for his "outstanding commitment to promote respectful language in government."

As critic for housing, Forbes called on the government "to come forward with a comprehensive affordable housing strategy and poverty reduction strategy, and to address the underlying causes of the crisis."[17] As part of addressing the shortage of housing in the province and raising rents, Forbes championed a push for the implementation of rent controls.

2011-present: Opposition Critic and Caucus Chair[edit]

In November 2011, Forbes was re-elected as the MLA for Saskatoon Centre with 54% of the vote.[13] His colleagues elected Forbes to be Caucus Chair. From 2011 to March 2013 Forbes sat as Opposition critic for Labour, Municipal Affairs, Housing, Saskatchewan Worker's Compensation Board, Enterprise Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Water Corporation.

In December 2011, Forbes introduced Jimmy's Law, a bill to help protect workers' physical safety during late-night shifts.[18] The Law's namesake is Jimmy Ray Wiebe who was shot twice in the early morning hours of June 20, 2011 during his late night shift at a gas station in Yorkton. Jimmy's Law was proposed as an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The bill required employers to either schedule a minimum of two employees for late night shifts or ensure that an individual worker is safe behind a locked door or barrier.[18]

In November 2012, David's hard work led to an increase in safety regulations for late-night retail workers.[19] The government added new regulations that include a check-in system and personal emergency transmitters for all employees working alone in late-night retail establishments.[19] The changes fell short of Jimmy's Law to make employers schedule at least two employees per shift at night.

Also in the fall of 2012, David led a tour of public meetings in nine communities throughout Saskatchewan to consult on the Sask. Party government’s planned overhaul of all workplace and employment laws and its controversial discussion paper guiding the process.[20] A report was released in October 2012 summarizing the findings of this tour.

In March 2013, with the election of Cam Broten as leader of the Saskatchewan NDP,[21] David was appointed as Opposition critic for Labour, Education, Housing, Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, Saskatchewan Worker's Compensation Board, and Diversity, Equality and Human Rights.[22]

In his role as critic for Diversity, Equality and Human Rights, David began presenting petitions asking for the addition of 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' to the list of protected categories in Saskatchewan's Human Rights Code. David added his voice to the pressure from the community and in December 2014, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code was amended to include 'gender identity' as a prohibited ground.[23]

David and the Opposition NDP have also been asking many questions about protecting students against bullying.[24] These concerns led to the introduction of Bill 612 - The Respect for Diversity Student Bill of Rights Act in April 2015.[25] Among other rights, this bill will ensure students who request a GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance or Gay-Straight Alliance) at school cannot be denied. It also gives students the right to have any cyber-bullying or other bullying concerns properly addressed by their school administration; and that students have the right to have any disability appropriately accommodated.


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-19. Retrieved 2013-07-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan". Archived from the original on 2010-08-26. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
  3. ^ a b "David Forbes MLA". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  4. ^ Elections Saskatchewan
  5. ^ Elections Saskatchewan
  6. ^ [1], Sask Launches Consultations on Building a Green Strategy.
  7. ^ [2] Archived 2006-10-08 at the Wayback Machine, Conserving Our Water.
  8. ^ [3], Regulations in Place to Conserve the Great Sand Hills.
  9. ^ [4], Saskatchewan's workplace bullying ban now in place.
  10. ^ , Oliver, Bobbie, Ed. Labour History in the New century, p. 205.
  11. ^ [5], Saskatchewan Celebrates First-Ever Family Day, Feb. 16, 2007.
  12. ^ [6][permanent dead link], Final Report and Recommendations of the Commission on Improving Work Opportunities for Saskatchewan Residents, Feb. 16, 2006.
  13. ^ a b [7],[dead link] Elections Saskatchewan.
  14. ^ [https://web.archive.org/web/20111121233349/http://www.meadowlakeprogress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2893793 Archived 2011-11-21 at the Wayback Machine] Archived 2011-11-21 at the Wayback Machine, Animal Protection Act Passes in Record-breaking time.
  15. ^ [8], MLA Seeks Language Update.
  16. ^ [9] Archived 2012-03-08 at the Wayback Machine, NDP 'Respectful Language' Initiative Passes into Law, May 18, 2011.
  17. ^ [10] Archived 2011-08-08 at the Wayback Machine, NDP calling on Wall Government to Immediately Develop a Housing and Poverty Reduction Strategy, Nov. 22, 2010
  18. ^ a b [11] Archived 2013-01-15 at Archive.today, NDP introduces Jimmy's Law, Dec. 15, 2011.
  19. ^ a b [12], Sask gov't to introduce new night shift rules, Nov. 3, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  20. ^ [13], More than 700 attended Your Work, Your Say forums, September 27, 2012.
  21. ^ [14] Archived 2013-05-15 at the Wayback Machine, Cam Broten elected as new leader of Saskatchewan NDP, March 9, 2013.
  22. ^ [15] Archived 2013-06-20 at Archive.today, NDP Leader Cam Broten Shuffle NDP Caucus, March 11, 2013.
  23. ^ [16], Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (10 December 2014)
  24. ^ [17], David in the Legislature
  25. ^ [18], Bill 612 The Respect for Diversity – Student Bill of Rights Act.