Saskatchewan Party MLA for Prince Albert Carlton Darryl Hickie pointed to affordable housing, job training opportunities and infrastructure funding as three key areas that will be improved through the government’s policies.
“There’s going to be additional programming and dollars for … housing for low-income and families in need,” Hickie said. “That’s a good one for Prince Albert. There’ll have to be action by the city of course. It won’t be one of those programs where everyone just gets certain funding. It’ll have to be based on proposals that are put forth.
“Another thing for Prince Albert will be the increasing apprenticeship spaces that we’re going to work on … We’ll see students have other opportunities to work in the industry and stay in Saskatchewan … For the infrastructure piece, I do believe there will be some future funding coming from the federal government. We’ve heard some good signs and signals from them, so Prince Albert again will have that opportunity to access those funds, as they have already for things like the water treatment facility.”
Prince Albert Northcote MLA Victoria Jurgens said the speech addressed other issues of concern to Prince Albert residents, such as more funding for post-secondary education and added help for the elderly and disabled.
“With the education, it impacts Prince Albert quite directly, and we’ve also got a large number of seniors,” Jurgens said. “So what we have is building on the investment under the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability … We’ll be adding another $1,800 per year to those benefits by 2015, and talking about the Seniors Income Plan, it’ll have tripled in six years. So by 2015, we’ll have 2,100 more dollars per year in the pockets of low-income seniors.
“Our community has a great number of seniors, and we’re working hard to help them.”
I’m not sure where the NDP were sitting. But what I heard was a plan for growth. - MLA Victoria Jurgens
The opposition New Democratic Party was withering in its critique of the Throne Speech. Hickie dismissed certain criticisms, such as that the speech made no proposals at all to improve health care, as categorically false.
“The entire initiatives with health care are ongoing, but there are some specific things that we looked at,” Hickie said. “We appointed a new minister, (Rural and Remote Health) Minister (Randy) Weekes, to talk about remote and rural health care issues … We’re looking at expanding the issue of nurse practitioners, using the Nova Scotia model in our rural areas to use team approaches to health care, where we will have paramedics, nurse practitioners, nurses and physicians working in a team approach to address issues that we’ve seen arising over the last number of years.”
Other NDP criticisms were that the speech was full of already-announced proposals and avoided mentioning the government’s decimation of the provincial film industry through withdrawal of a key tax credit.
Hickie said previous programs were recognized in the Throne Speech because of ongoing funding commitments and the need to maintain Premier Brad Wall’s vision. He also denied that the speech avoided mentioning the film industry.
“We talk in the Throne Speech about funding the creative industries in this province over the last number of years,” Hickie said. “We are doing extensive creative industry consultations right now to look at how to best utilize the dollars that we currently have and what the industries would like to see.”
Unsurprisingly, both MLAs had a positive view of the speech made on behalf of their party’s administration.
“I’m not sure where the NDP were sitting,” Jurgens said. “But what I heard was a plan for growth.”