In these difficult economic times, we need to do what Saskatchewan does best and that's grow food. Food production is our greatest strength and we should be looking at ways to grow the food industry. In the six month growing season that our producers have to work with, they are equal to or better than anyone else in the world. So why not grow food during the other 6 months of the year?
The recent announcement by the Federal government that infrastructure monies will be available for long term projects which are shovel ready and create long term employment has spurred our policy announcement timetable.
This policy speaks to why we need to mitigate the following facts:
• Dramatic increase in the cost of vegetables and fruit for Saskatchewan families.
• Fall of the Canadian dollar against US currency and lack of irrigation water in California and Southwest U.S. appears to be a long-term reality.
• Fruit and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet for all citizens, so it is important to examine this situation and look to the future sustainability of supplies.
• We cannot change our climate to grow certain foods 12 months of the year in Saskatchewan outdoors, so we must be innovative and look to our strengths for answers.
• All of the above have collectively brought about bigger grocery bills for all of us and potentially poor nutritional choices.
• Necessity to meet future goals of greener energy sources
Because of the foresight of the PC Party in the 1980s, this province has many industrial complexes that can generate heat to power our food industry through the coldest days of a Saskatchewan winter. Many of these complexes already help power our agricultural industry so why not make them a bigger part of the production cycle? Much of the waste heat from our primary resource extraction industries is in the form of steam - either low pressure or high pressure - which is vented off into the atmosphere. Natural gas - another source of energy and waste heat - is flared off in many of Saskatchewan's oilfields.
The PC Party believes the Government of Saskatchewan should put in place the proper regulatory and taxation regimes to encourage the use of this waste heat for the growing of fruit and vegetables on a commercial basis through the construction and use of greenhouses in close proximity to many of these heat sources.
Publications from the Canadian Greenhouse Association show that heating costs for most vegetable production is around 20% of the total costs of production of vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables and fruits.
The Province of Saskatchewan currently has a greenhouse facility using waste heat attached to the Shand Power station south of Estevan, SK. This facility has been used to start and grow trees on a part-time basis but never vegetables or fruit. The PC Party believes this facility should be turned over to the Saskatchewan Research Council and the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Agriculture’s Horticultural program to conduct the best implementation practices for using waste heat and greenhouse production in Saskatchewan. Because this is an existing facility, this project could be up and running in 2016 with Federal and Provincial co-operation.
Saskatchewan can be a leader in western Canada in lessening our dependence on imported food and at the same time promoting locally grown nutritious products to support healthy lifestyles in a cost-effective manner.
If the commercial viability of this program can be enhanced by allowing industrial enterprises to first co-generate electricity to be sold back into Sask Power’s grid, the necessary regulatory changes should be looked at. Saskatchewan needs more sources of electrical generation to feed a growing economy. The water and fuel already have been paid for, the steam is a bonus.
The use of CO2 has proven to be a beneficial element in greenhouse production. Saskatchewan is currently producing more CO2 than future regulations will allow. Perhaps some of that excess CO2 could be directed towards a viable greenhouse industry.
Despite the Sask Party government's rhetoric, Saskatchewan is still subject to a boom and bust economy and we must create additional value-added sources of income to supplement our raw material value chains and better weather tough economic times. Food will always be in demand and our governments - both federal and provincial - should be investing in our greatest strength.
Sustainable food supplies supported by our clean water resources, our unmatched university and post-secondary research programs and a strong work ethic can make this vision a reality.
The PC Party believes this type of forward looking and co-operative approach to food production, enhanced by our collective efforts to become a more environmentally responsible province, will ensure a healthier society and a more productive economy.
We will actively promote this Policy platform in the upcoming election and push whichever new government is in place after April 4th to take this proposal seriously.
For more information call Rick Swenson at (306) 631-5461 or
Estevan PC Candidate Paul Carroll at (306) 461-6636
For information on the Shand Greenhouse, please contact Paul Carroll at 306 461-6636