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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I noticed in last Saturday’s Leader Post an advertisement for the position of Chief Electoral Officer in Saskatchewan. As some of you will remember from last year, the PC Party banned together with the Saskatchewan Liberals, the Green Party and the New Democratic Party to block the Sask Party’s attempts to get rid of the current Acting Chief Electoral Officer.

What should happen here is that Mr. David Wilkie should be confirmed in the position as he and his crew did a very fine job of running the last provincial election campaign. The PC Party has an excellent working relationship with all of the officials at Elections Saskatchewan and we really appreciate their willingness to help out with various challenges. I am somewhat suspicious, however, because the Chief Electoral Office recently brought forward a challenge to the way the Sask Party was issuing tax credits and that issue has now been referred to the Manitoba Department of Justice for an impartial, out-of-province adjudication. There is also the issue of the boundary re-distribution which the Premier popped into the Legislative Assembly on the last day of the fall session without any warning to any of the other parties. That legislation changes the way that voting numbers are arrived at but also talks about increasing the size of the Legislative Assembly. Hopefully, this is not a move by the Sask Party and their inner circle of friends trying to gerrymander the electoral process to their own benefit. The last thing Saskatchewan needs right now are more $85,000/year back bench politicians who do nothing but collect a paycheque and say “yes sir” to Mr. Wall and his friends.

Last week it was announced that the STARS program was ready to launch, however, one small – or rather should I say large – problem came to light. There is not a hospital in Saskatchewan that has the ability to receive one of these helicopters anywhere close to the hospital. Any patients brought in by helicopter will have to be landed at the nearest airport and transported by ambulance to a hospital – defeating the purpose. It seems the government did a study which showed that if this was the case, there would be no saving of time and in fact, the transferring of patients a second time, increases the risk to the patient. Would it not be better to establish the landing areas and delay the implementation of the helicopters and beef up the ambulance service in our rural areas in the meantime until the landing pads are finished. Once again, just like in the past, the Wall government was more concerned about making a big flashy announcement than doing the due diligence for a health care delivery system. This is just like the carbon capture project with Montana that was cancelled, the domed stadium project in Regina that was cancelled, the lean hospital project in Moose Jaw which was announced without even having a site established – all of this in the name of getting Mr. Wall a legacy project and getting Sask Party MLAs elected.
It may be several years before the studies and construction will get helipads established at even one Saskatchewan hospital but I suppose that will be a promise for the next election campaign.

Hopefully at this week’s SUMA meetings, civic leaders will be pushing the provincial government and their federal counterparts to come up with new ideas for infrastructure and housing requirements. There was some interesting numbers that came out the other day by the City of Moose Jaw which showed that out of every tax dollar collected in that city, only 5 cents went to the city. The rest went to the federal and provincial governments. One area of huge concern is multi-family housing and its lack of construction. In the last election campaign, the PC Party suggested that perhaps this would be a good sector to start tax harmonization on. In other words – people and builders taking advantage of the current federal program and the limited provincial one could get their PST and GST on associated construction costs back in order to provide incentive for this badly needed area. It is obvious that much of Saskatchewan’s immigration is tied to individuals who could initially only afford multi-family housing as they work their way into our work place. I can’t think of a city or good size town in Saskatchewan that does not need more of this type of housing. Let’s hope and watch with interest to see what comes out of this week’s SUMA meetings.

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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