Northern MP Optimistic About Budget, Others Aren’t

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 15:09



The Member of Parliament for northern Saskatchewan says he is hopeful the federal budget will result in new infrastructure projects being built in the province’s north.


Conservative Rob Clarke says spending has been targeted on a number of areas like forestry and mining.


So far, Clarke hasn’t heard of any specific commitments earmarked for his riding of Desnethe-Missinipi-Churchill River.


But he is optimistic the constituency will share in the wave of projects soon to be announced.


He says he “lobbied hard” to have funds for new reserve schools added to the budget, and is hopeful some of the projects will be in the region he represents.


Clarke also notes $170 million has been set aside for forestry over the next two years, and he believes that will help the industry in Saskatchewan.


The mayor of Buffalo Narrows says he wants to know how much money the federal government expects municipalities to pay for their infrastructure needs.


Bobby Woods says the government’s economic stimulus package might not mean much if northern municipalities are on the hook for a large portion of project funding.


He adds sewer and water needs are paramount in communities like his.


Meanwhile, a national Native leader says the federal budget does little to alleviate poverty for Aboriginal women.


Beverly Jacobs of the Native Women’s Association of Canada says she is disappointed in Stephen Harper’s government.


Jacobs says she met with him shortly before the document was written, hoping there might be something in there for Aboriginal women looking for job training — but she says that wasn’t the case.


Jacobs calls the budget a wasted opportunity.


The National Association of Friendship Centres says it feels left out of the federal budget.


Executive director Peter Dinsdale says despite working with the Department of Canadian Heritage on a long-term funding plan, his group basically got shut out of the huge fiscal plan.


Dinsdale says he isn’t sure why the government continues to ignore the friendship centres when a large number of on-reserve citizens move to cities each year.


He notes that 54 per cent of Aboriginal people live in urban areas, according to the 2006 Census.


Dinsdale says they need federal money to help with employment, training and housing needs.


He adds the friendship centres are being left to fend for themselves.