Every once in a while a public policy issue comes along and seems to take on a life of its own. The policy issue I'm referring to is the proposed carbon tax. The problem with an initiative like this is the fact that most of us don't have the necessary knowledge base to make rational decisions and secondly, this is an issue that is open to political grand standing.
Various forms of carbon taxes have been the reality in several Canadian provinces for a number of years now. They were instituted in order to start addressing the effects of climate change and changing the way that our society uses various forms of energy. So it is a big area of public policy. Not everyone agrees with climate change in the first place and whether you come from a consuming province or a producing province also can affect your views on this issue. We have all witnessed the war of words between the Premier of Saskatchewan and the Federal Liberal government who has decided that all provinces will have some form of carbon tax by 2018.
My hat goes off to the APAS organization for sponsoring a conference in Saskatoon last week on this topic in conjunction with their semi-annual meeting. They brought in speakers from across Canada and put together a very in depth presentations by people who have studied all aspects of the carbon issue. The conference was very well attended with a wide spectrum of Saskatchewan's population attending. The APAS organization is to be commended for a first-class effort at helping us understand where we all fit in this very complex issue.
We have to feel for our fellow Canadians living in central British Columbia as wildfires rage through that part of beautiful BC. Hot dry weather along with the ravages of the bark pine beetle which has left millions of dead trees in BC's forest have created the perfect storm for people living in that area. One only has to wonder if the heat keeps up in Saskatchewan if we will not face some of the same challenges soon.
It's been a long time since I've seen hay crops dry down so quickly. I'm baling heavy alfalfa swaths in less than 48 hours. Many producers in Saskatchewan are going to be faced with a feed shortage this winter if they did not conserve hay stocks from the previous wet years. You can certainly see the damages that are occurring to many other crops that cannot take day-after-day above 30 degrees celsius with no rain. Let's keep our fingers crossed that there is a change in the weather for a whole lot of reasons.
It would appear from the newscasts and the live coverage of various events celebrating Canada's 150th birthday that it went very well all across the country. The weather cooperated in most parts of Canada and here in Saskatchewan, we certainly had a beautiful day.
I think Canadians have really come to understand that Canada is truly a very privileged place in which to live. I think for a long time we were envious of other peoples and I can remember growing up, people would say "I would like to live in this country or that country" after they grew up and received their education. One only has to look around at the various peoples who have immigrated to Canada and why they have come here to understand how fortunate we are.
David Prokopchuk of Saskatoon has announced his intention to seek the nomination to be the Progressive Conservative candidate in the Saskatoon Fairview Constituency by-election. The date for this by-election has not yet been set.
Mr. Prokopchuk runs his own financial services business and has lived in Saskatoon for more than 40 years. David has a degree in political science and economics from the University of Saskatchewan. He worked for Saskatoon Light and Power for 27 years. David is active in the community. He is the chairman of Ukrainian Day in the Park and Provincial President of the Ukrainian Self Reliance Association. He has played an active role in many other community organizations including the Alzheimer’s Society, the Canadian Lung Association and the MS Society. He is a firm believer in the democratic process. In 2004, David was part of a Canadian government-sponsored delegation of observers for the special presidential election in Ukraine to help ensure a democratic process took place. Again in 2012, David was selected as one of 60 long term observers selected from over 1500 applicants. It was the first time Canada had its own long term observation mission.
This last week of June is always one of anticipation. This is the last week of school and kids no matter what their age, can't wait to begin summer holidays. Many families are booking their favourite camping spots and certainly Saskatchewan has lots of wonderful places to visit.
Last Saturday was our annual calf day when we get together as family and with the help of some friends, bring in the cows, sort the calves off and put them all through the chute. This year everything went very smoothly except for one little red brockle face calf that decided he didn't want to change from being a bull to becoming a steer! This calf took off into the bush in the coulee bottom and didn't reappear until he was hungry that evening. We will deal with him on another day.
A major policy proposal of the PC Party in the last election campaign was the elimination of the regional health authorities and the return of ministerial accountability and responsibility to health care. Along with that, we proposed the establishment of local quality care boards who would be elected by their peers at the same time as municipal councils were elected. We felt it was imperative that health spending be returned to the Legislative Assembly which should be the ultimate form of fiscal accountability in our province.
The Sask Party government during the election campaign basically made no comment on health care. The billion dollar deficit which the PC Party predicted came true and the Sask Party finally decided to act on health care reform. They announced the elimination of the regional health authorities but instead of ministerial accountability, they determined that a single health authority would be put in place to oversee the management and spending of health delivery in this province.
I think we were all willing to give them the benefit of the doubt both in tackling the huge budget deficits this government created by its bad choices and also because we all wanted to see patient-first care improved in this province. Finally after many months we get the announcement late last week about the new health authority.
“The Sask Party government’s announcement of the ten member board of directors for the new Saskatchewan Health Authority shows once again this government has very little respect for the taxpayers of Saskatchewan. Where are the new ideas and where are the new people?” That is the opinion of PC Party Leader Rick Swenson.
“The PC Party campaigned on the elimination of the Health Regions to bring Ministerial accountability back to health care. Instead the Sask Party Government has chosen to put an entity between the Minister and the people of Saskatchewan’s health needs. The Sask Party has once again recycled supporters from other Order in Council appointments to oversee our biggest budget item and most pressing need.”
All ten members of this board were appointed without any input from the public. The Minister announced the names of the board of directors without any background information about their qualifications and experiences which would tell the public why they are suitable to serve on this board and neglected to mention that most are Sask Party donors.”
“If the time comes when things are going sideways in health care, will these people be prepared to stand up to the government and force them to do the right thing? Are these board members prepared to resign if the government refuses to listen to reason, or will they agree to support every whim of this government as previous boards did with the Lean program and John Black and associates blowing our money?”
Swenson concluded, “Saskatchewan’s largest budget item deserves more respect than this appointment process by this Sask Party government and the health of Saskatchewan’s residents deserves ministerial accountability not recycled party friendly board members running political interference for the government.”
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