This week's commentary by PC Party President Grant Schmidt
I am using the Leader’s Monday time slot to take care of P.C. Party Business.
There will be a by-election in Saskatoon Meewasin before June. We guess Brad Wall will call a by-election on January 31st, 2017 for the end of February.
Why will Wall call so soon? To get his lost seat out of the way before the ugly March, April, May or June budget. We know from last year’s election Wall has mismanaged the boom so bad he is having a hard time counting up his deficit.
Last week, I joined thousands of others paying a visit to the Crop Production Show in Saskatoon. The day I was there, the place was packed which is a very good sign after a very disappointing 2016 harvest for many producers. For a politician, it is a great place to meet people, say hello to old friends and acquaintances and get a sense of where agriculture will go in 2017. And of course the farmer in me is drawn to the shiny new equipment and products that are available. You also marvel at the price tag on most of this stuff and wonder how the input costs of agriculture will remain sustainable. My hat goes off to the people that organize this show on a yearly basis. They really do a tremendous job of putting it together in a format people can appreciate.
Sustainability is a word that can mean many things but it is something that is more often mentioned around the production and availability of food across the world today. You have heard me mention in this commentary many times that I believe Canada and Saskatchewan need to start putting in place the right environments to secure fruits and vegetables on a year-round basis from our own production.
You all have seen and read indicators recently that talk about the rapid escalation of price in these particular food products. That is happening for a number of reasons. Lack of water in certain growing regions, increased transportation costs and the fact that populations in North America are growing. It takes more food to provide a healthy diet for our population.
I'm sure all of you remember the television and radio ads the PC Party ran in the last election campaign where we called for the elimination of the health regions and bringing accountability back to the Legislature for health care spending. Low and behold last week, the Sask Party government took a big step in that direction. The advisory committee which they set up way back last spring finally reported to the Health Minister and the government. Their conclusion was that the health regions should be eliminated and replaced with one health region for the entire province with a CEO and Board of Directors. The Athabasca Health Region which is almost all First Nations with a heavy proportion of Federal funding will remain.
In my view, this is a huge step in the right direction but as is always the case, the devil will be in the details. Minister Reiter did not seem to have a clue at the news conference when this was announced about how this process would unfold. When the PC Party called for the elimination of the health regions over a four-year period of time, we did not envision replacing fourteen bureaucracies with another single one. We envisioned the Department of Health once again assuming responsibility for the delivery of health care and health care professionals taking responsibility for how they spend taxpayer's money.
“Teachers, nurses and others in the public service are in danger of having their wages cut or possibly even having positions cut due to the many mistakes by the Sask Party government.” That is the opinion of PC Party leader, Rick Swenson.
“The Premier and his Sask Party government have spent $1.5 billion on a carbon capture system that doesn’t come close to eliminating the amount of carbon they said it would. In addition, they have paid Cenovus, a Calgary oil company and major Sask Party Donor, nearly $20 million in contract penalties for not providing enough carbon dioxide.”
“If the Sask Party government would have taken the PC Party’s suggestion of having the Regina bypass follow a northern route and save $1 billion dollars, we wouldn’t be having the Premier hinting that there will be layoffs and wage roll backs in the public service.” Those are the sentiments of PC Party Leader, Rick Swenson.
“Originally the cost of the bypass was estimated at $400 million. Since then, the cost has quintupled to $2 billion. Before the election, we offered a solution to the bypass that would have saved $1 billion and taken more large trucks off Victoria Avenue East. Instead, the Sask Party chose to cater to their political friends and now taxpayers will have to carry the burden of all this extra debt for 30 years to come.”
PC Party Leader, Rick Swenson, is very pleased that the PC Party election platform on abolishing the regional health authorities has been recommended to the government by its special committee and adopted by the Sask Party government. “The consolidation to one Provincial Health Authority and the corresponding accountability to the Legislative Assembly is a tremendous step in the right direction” said Swenson.
“Hopefully the Sask Party government will move on the recommendations in an expedient manner. The PC Party wants the government to define how the Health Quality Council will remain strong and independent of government and hopes that the government will look at the PC Policy of establishing elected patient advisory committees at the community level.”
Through mismanagement and incompetence, the provincial government has allowed the deficit to balloon from an estimated $434 million in the June budget to over $1 billion. This is money Saskatchewan taxpayers and families will have to carry the burden of paying for decades.