Screen shot of Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger during Question Period.
A few northern Saskatchewan issues took centre stage during Question Period at the Legislative Assembly in Regina on Tuesday afternoon.
Firstly, STC Critic and Cumberland MLA Doyle Vermette continued to grill the Saskatchewan Party government about cutting the Saskatchewan Transportation Company. Vermette claims scrapping the STC is hurting people in the north. He says cutting STC has forced many people to hitchhike, which he says is a dangerous option.
“The one bus to Meadow Lake was just cancelled, so now not a single bus runs north of Prince Albert,” Vermette told the Assembly. “So how does the government expect northerners to react when getting cut-off from the rest of the province.”
SGI Minister Joe Hargrave admitted it was a difficult decision to cut STC. However, Hargrave was optimistic that private companies will take up the cause and provide transportation services for the north. He said there are companies waiting for approval to begin these operations. Hargrave also claimed a private company may be able to offer northerners better rates than STC ever did.
Also during Question Period, Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger questioned why northern Saskatchewan wasn’t mentioned during the recent Speech from the Throne. Belanger says mental health issues in northern Saskatchewan continue to be a pressing issue and the government is not addressing these concerns. He says communities like La Loche are being left behind.
“Not a single word for the north,” said Belanger. “A region in need of more resources, respect and opportunity.”
Education Minister Brownyn Eyre called on the assembly to not discredit the work being done in northern Saskatchewan, specifically in La Loche. She drew the assembly’s attention to recent comments from La Loche mayor Robert St. Pierre following a meeting with provincial cabinet ministers where he spoke positively of the work being done.
Belanger also took exception to the lack of an apology for the Sixties Scoop during the Throne Speech.
Premier Brad Wall was asked about the Sixties Scoop apology after the throne speech and he says the government is committed to an apology, but the premier told reporters to ask the FSIN about the delay. FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron admitted they are asking for compensation to come along with an apology.
Also at the assembly Tuesday afternoon was continued criticism for the Sask. Party’s decision to consolidate NORTEP/NORPAC with Northlands College. NDP Interim Leader Nicole Sarauer says the north needs more teachers not less. Herb Cox, Minister of Advanced Education, says teacher education in the north is vitally important, but he says the consolidation allows that to happen with a smaller burden on Saskatchewan taxpayers.