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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

You would think that government stupidity would take a few weeks off in the summer time like the rest of us hope that we can do. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

We have seen this past week that the Sask Party government was in such a hurry to get a contract signed with the nurses that no one bothered to either read the fine print or quite frankly, gave a damn about the taxpayers of this province. It has now been revealed that we have some nurses making in the range of $240,000/year because they have access to almost unlimited overtime and in fact, could probably call in sick on their regular shifts and qualify for the $90/hour work on overtime and no one will even question the matter. Now everyone knows that the majority of our nurses probably don’t or want to work overtime. They would rather be home with their families. But this just confirms what the PC Party has been saying about our health system for a number of years.

Government goes out and makes contracts. SAHO then has to implement and pay for the contract that government dictated for the nurses. Of course, any controversy that will arise out of this latest revelation the government will say it is the responsibility of the various health regions and their umbrella, SAHO. Accountability must begin at the top. The Sask Party government, the Premier, the Cabinet Ministers and the MLAs, are the only ones who should answer for these huge amounts of taxpayers’ money being paid out in what are probably non-productive ways. Before a new contract is once again signed with the nurses of this province, all of the details - not just what is politically expedient - needs to be revealed to Saskatchewan taxpayers.

Friday was a sad day for the city of Moose Jaw and livestock producers in Saskatchewan. The permanent closure of the XL beef plant was announced by the Nilsson Brothers and that they would be concentrating on their businesses in Alberta and the United States. I am extremely disappointed in the lame response of Warren Michelson, the Sask Party MLA in Moose Jaw and the non-response of the Sask Party government and the Minister of Agriculture. The labour dispute in this plant has been going on for 1½ years and certainly has something to do with this closure but blaming the union and it’s leadership for all the problems, is just the easy way out for Nilsson and our government. This plant closure was almost predictable when Nilsson Brothers closed the boning plant and shipped “swinging sides” to Calgary for boning for the past half dozen years that the plant was in operation. They obviously were making money shipping meat 500 miles and then processing it – why all of a sudden is the plant uneconomical?

XL was given money by the Saskatchewan government to upgrade that facility and now they are simply walking away from a plant that helped ensure hundreds of jobs in Saskatchewan and helped control the freight costs of culled cows and bulls by offering Saskatchewan producers an alternative to paying the freight to out-of-province plants. It is extremely important that Saskatchewan livestock producers have access to value-added processing in this province. If we don’t value-add, then it is the same old story that we have faced in Saskatchewan for many decades where the costs are always passed back to the primary producer. Since the Nilsson Brothers are shutting down this plant, then they should have to pay back the taxpayers’ money that was put into that plant to modernize it and allow someone else the opportunity to operate it. For instance, bison producers who have a product which is in great demand could probably use access to another federally-inspected plant in order to market more of their product. Once again, why are we getting no new ideas from this Sask Party government and all their rural MLAs?

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