PC PARTY OF SASKATCHEWAN
MONDAY MORNING COMMENTARY – JANUARY 10, 2011
Thanks to those of you that took the time to reply to last week’s commentary. As we sit in our homes trying to survive this on-going Saskatchewan winter, it is a good time to think about what is possible and what there should be more dialogue about in the province of Saskatchewan.
I will be attending the Crop Production Week in Saskatoon for three days and also meeting with various interest groups as well so it is appropriate this week to talk about agriculture.
There are already major weather forecasters and those involved in the commodity trade who are speculating about another wet spring in Saskatchewan and what the consequences of that could be. The major consequence is that a lot of Saskatchewan farm families could be in dire straights if another wet spring occurs and along with it, millions of acres of unseeded crop land. There was an article in the Western Producer in December talking about 3 individuals from Moose Jaw who have launched a private revenue guarantee insurance program. It is based on a 5 year individual crop management prospectus and I am told will be handled similar to hail insurance. I wish these people all the best but I cannot help but think about the GRIP program brought in by the last Progressive Conservative Government in Saskatchewan and how it would have succeeded had we had 5 years of individual coverage history and normal crop prices. Governments of all stripes have maintained that that program was simply too expensive. No one, however, has done the math given the fact that all crop insurance is now based on the individual farms records of production and certainly commodity prices have had more consistent ups than downs. Farm families don’t ask to hit a home run on insurance. What ever one wants is to be able to cover the costs of production and have enough left over to put food on the table for another year. I believe that it is time that governments in Saskatchewan and Canada take another look at some type of revenue insurance and if it had to be delivered through a private sector mechanism to get past the countervailed issues then so be it. We will not achieve a well-rounded agricultural sector by simply allowing a few thousand corporate farms or people like Mr. Emsley and his Assiniboia land company to make us a bunch of serfs once more.
Health care continues to dominate the thoughts of many of the people who have responded to this commentary lately and certainly continues to fill the pages of our newspapers and editorial comments across the province. During the last campaign, the PC Party campaigned on the idea that the health districts in Saskatchewan should be shut down and the monies directed towards primary care. That particular promise has drawn both negatives and positives and it is something that should be revisited in a very meaningful way before the next election campaign. But the fact that we continue to lose doctors and hospital services in rural Saskatchewan because of the lack of resources and recruitment means that something must be done. In the last week, we have learned that Wakaw may lose its hospital because their doctor is leaving and that only about half of the residents graduated from the College of Medicine in Saskatoon stay in the province because they are underpaid compared to their counterparts on either side of us. If the resources aren’t there, than we must do things differently. We know that health care was delivered across this province before the implementation of the health districts. Their creation was strongly motivated by the political agenda of the NDP government and that agenda was to save money by consolidating health care into Regina and Saskatoon. There is much more to this province than those two cities and therefore we must look objectively at every part of the system. There can be no sacred cows in our medical system because our seniors deserve better, people working in the four corners of this province deserve better and if we are to continue to grow our province on a consistent basis, health care is one of the foundations of that growth. The PC Party cannot be afraid to take bold steps.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.