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Report Casts Spotlight On The High Cost Of Living In Saskatchewan's Far North PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Friday, 12 December 2014 11:06

Many residents of isolated northern Saskatchewan communities are having to choose between heating their homes or eating healthy foods.  That information came out this week in a Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce report that examined ways to accelerate economic and social development in the province's north.

While the province says it is doing the best it can, residents and the NDP Opposition say it is not enough.

Caroline Isadore is a life-long resident of Fond du Lac.  She runs the local community bulletin board.  Fond du Lac is Saskatchewan's most northern community situated on the east side of Lake Athabasca.  In the winter, there is an ice road.  In the summer, it's fly-in only.  When residents like Isadore have to buy groceries, they have to dig deep.

"If you go shopping and you fill up like two grocery bags, that will cost you about $180.00," she says.

Here is why:  four litres of milk costs about $19; 18 eggs will cost you $8; bacon is about $12; and a couple of pounds of grapes will run you about $5.  The NDP's Northern Affairs critic, Doyle Vermette, says on top of that, the cost to heat homes is through the roof -- about 30% higher than urban areas.  He wants the province to lobby Ottawa to increase its northern food subsidy, and he is calling on SaskPower to cut its electrical rates.

"Families have to choose and make those tough decisions. You know, do you have fresh vegetables?  Do you have fruit versus covering the utilities, the rent and all your other costs of living?" he asks.

While residents of remote communities in the north pay double or triple the cost of food, the cost of liquor is the same province-wide.  That is because the provincial government has for decades assumed transportation costs to its stores and franchises rather than pass those charges on to the people living in those communities.  Vermette says it might be time to re-examine that and maybe use that money to help lower the cost of food.

"That's maybe something that residents of the province should definitely be looking at saying, 'Hey, this makes more sense and this is going to do more for a community'," he says.

The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority says its practice is the same as what is being done in other provinces.

Woman Charged Following RCMP Probe Into Reserve Fine Option Program PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Smith   
Friday, 12 December 2014 11:01

A 46-year-old woman is facing numerous charges after an investigation into fraud and falsifying documents.

RCMP say a complaint was received from provincial court officials in July 2013.

Officials suspected fraudulent activity in the Fine Option program on the Big River First Nation.

RCMP began an investigation and numerous people were interviewed.

Sylvia Grace Joseph was later arrested last month and is facing a total of 108 criminal code offences under the criminal code.

The charges include 17 counts of fraud, 28 counts of forgery, 31 counts of using a forged document and 32 counts of falsifying books and documents.

Joseph is scheduled to appear in court on January 13.

National Chief Of The Congress Of Aboriginal Peoples Welcomes Leadership Challenge PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Friday, 12 December 2014 10:54

The national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples believes she has the support of the board and grassroots members, even though a Saskatchewan delegate wants her gone.

Kim Beaudin tried to make that happen last week at a board meeting, but he was ruled out of order.  A vote on the leadership of Betty Ann Lavallee will likely take place next fall.

She believes she is doing a good job.  It is not easy being the head of a national Aboriginal organization, but Lavallee takes it all in stride.

"They haven't shot me, they haven't cut me off.  I think we have accomplished quite a bit," she says.

Everything from eliminating debt to helping push the Daniels case on Metis rights to the Supreme Court of Canada are among her accomplishments. She also knows she has detractors, the most notable is Beaudin.

Beaudin is the president of the Aboriginal Affairs Coalition of Saskatchewan, a CAP affiliate.  He says he and others have lost faith in Lavallee's leadership and they are calling for her resignation.

Lavallee is not worried.  She says everyone has a right to their opinion in a democracy.  She calls that healthy.

"It is not the first time that it has happened.  It is the same individual, and I think it is healthy that any organization is constantly forced to examine its direction and leadership," she says.

Lavallee was first elected CAP's national chief in 2009. She was re-elected in 2012.

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