For the first time this summer, we have a great weather forecast in front of us. The next week looks to be sunny and hot every day which is something the Swenson farm desperately needs. I am still haying and most of the crops in our area have a lot of catching up to do. We are going to be celebrating my Mom and Dad’s 65th anniversary this coming weekend with many outdoor activities planned with family and friends so the sunshine will be very welcome. I think everyone in Saskatchewan will look forward to the sunshine and the heat because it has been sorely missing for a long time.
Unfortunately for Saskatchewan, there are a couple of events which I wish we could miss out on. One is the annual report on crime which talks about all of Canada’s major cities above 100,000 populations. Once again, Regina ranks number one and Saskatoon is number two. In cities of less than 100,000, North Battleford is at or near the top and Prince Albert is not far behind. The second statistic which is disconcerting is the fact that critical “events” in our hospital system continues to increase.
This particular statistic is fairly new to us and I do applaud the provincial government for having the courage to publish the number although there wouldn’t be much sense in hiding it because the truth always comes out in the end. This means that incidences which put patients’ lives at risk continues to go up in our medical system. It is not a number which anyone entering our critical care system wants to hear because it could be you or I lying there in that bed.
Let’s go back to the first topic for a minute. Being the number one crime capital in Canada year after year should make everyone in our society ask the question of why this is. I listen to the various Police Chiefs and public officials from our major cities saying how much progress is being made and how really the numbers are deceiving. I know that with growth there also comes the challenges of increased law enforcement and the ability to keep pace with the influx of different types of individuals who are drawn to a growing population centre.
We know that gang-related activity has been a major problem for a long time. We know that substance abuse and all the things associated with that have been a problem for a long time. We also know, although no one wants to talk about it in explicit terms, is that we have a disproportionate amount of crime associated with our First Nations’ population.
Simply allocating more money for policing manpower is not going to change this situation dramatically in my view. In the long run, education and self-empowerment will do far more to lift people from their current social economic condition and thus tackle the roots of crime than anything else. One thing that I think can be done in the short term is for public policy makers to sit down with various group leaders and talk about how neighbourhood organizations, cultural groups and role models can more effectively work in our communities. This may take more financial resources but it may be finding easier ways for these people to show leadership and have the larger community back them up will show more progress on crime than anything else.
I have always felt that simply giving people things is not always the solution. Taking ownership and responsibility is often just as rewarding and ultimately it will be the different groups of our society who will demand that people within their group step up and take responsibility that makes the difference. Sending more people to the penitentiary in Prince Albert which now has over 200 inmates out of a population of 800 with serious Hepatitis C infections doesn’t seem like a great way to rebuild broken societies or fix our ranking as the number one crime capitals in Canada.
As next Monday is a holiday, there will not be a commentary next week. I hope you have an enjoyable long weekend with family and friends.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.