Boasting some of the province’s biggest needs, Prince Albert Carlton MLA Darryl Hickie said that the city residents' key concerns are all heard during caucus meetings.
“In caucus we do provide our constant input to our colleagues and our premier and ministers to look at issues in Prince Albert,” Hickie said, providing a mid-session update on the goings on of legislature.
Preliminary discussions for the budget to be issued in March, began in September, with a caucus retreat in Elk Ridge in Prince Albert National Park.
“It’s a totality of the entire need and asks and wants of the province,” Hickie said of caucus meetings.
A second North Saskatchewan River crossing near Prince Albert has become the go-to infrastructure request, with the Saskatchewan NDP quick to criticize the Saskatchewan Party for its inaction.
But, Hickie notes, the Saskatchewan Party has funded a study to determine various aspects of a new bridge, such as location, the results of which will come forward in the near future.
“The people involved in the study got implicit input from shareholders … in and around Prince Albert to get their views,” Hickie said.
“I wait, and as do a lot of people in the area, for the outcome of that report to tell us what recommendations they make.
Another major piece of infrastructure that’s been requested for Prince Albert is either a new or renovated Victoria Hospital.
Like a new bridge, Hickie notes that the government has put the initial foot forward –- in this case, funding a study and functional plan.
“Right, now, no decision’s been made on that as to whether or not funds will be forward to a new hospital or a renovation,” he said, adding that this will be part of budget considerations.
“I’ve talked to the ministry of health and I’ve talked to the deputy minister as well.
“I know the premier knows it’s an important piece of northern health care file, so we have to see exactly, in context of a balanced budget, whether it will be in next year’s budget or (further into) the future.”
With Saskatchewan expanding, and the Saskatchewan Party putting forth a goal of having the province at 1.2 million people by 2020, Hickie notes that increased infrastructure spending will become inevitable.
To meet this increased need, additional dialogue between the provincial, federal and municipal governments as to new funding agreements and formulas will have to take place, Hickie said.
Going into the last half of the fall session, which ends on Dec. 6, Hickie said that he looks forward to spending time in his constituency, before going into budget-centred caucus meetings in late February, and then back into the legislative assembly of Saskatchewan in March.
Overall, things seem to be shaping up, Hickie said.
“What we’re seeing in the growing economy of Saskatchewan and the demands of our resource sector are good, and Saskatchewan is thriving right now.”
The Daily Herald caught up with Prince Albert Northcote MLA Victoria Jurgens earlier this week, providing a mid-session update with her in the Nov. 15 edition.
A fall session summary will be provided in the Daily Herald after things wrap up on Dec. 6, as soon as both Jurgens and Hickie are made available for comment.