Today is budget day in the province, and the two MLAs representing the Northern Administration District are hoping for the governing Saskatchewan Party to deliver on big items, while not impacting the high cost of living in the north.

Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger says this government has been ignoring the north for far too long, pointing to cuts or non-investments in key services.

“They’ve done a lot of hurtful cuts in the past,” said Belanger. “Cancelling the remote housing program, where northern families can own homes. No investment into housing, addictions, we’ve had a rash of northern suicides.”

Belanger says a recent mine closure has forced layoffs of approximately 800 northern workers. He also wants investments in capital highway projects.

“We’re kind of used to this government ignoring the north. What we’re hoping is that the government will start putting resources back into the north,” said Belanger. “I hope the budget shows a marked increase for highway construction, and that will help stimulate the economy.”

The north’s other MLA, Doyle Vermette (Cumberland), says his constituents want their long-awaited long-term care facility. He says the government identified it as a priority four budgets ago, yet only to see $500,000 for planning.

“You have seniors who wait 165 days for a bed,” said Vermette. “The minister has identified that as a priority. (If) it is a priority, than we’re hoping to see an announcement.”

Vermette also alludes to the high cost of living in the north and how last year’s PST hike of one per cent, negatively impacted lives of families already struggling to make ends meet.

“Everything’s been added to the residents and they’re struggling,” said Vermette. “People who are struggling, don’t need more taxes.”

“This government has been great at saying we’re going to give you more taxes and less services. People are starting to see that and they don’t want that anymore.”

(PHOTO: Doyle Vermette and Buckley Belanger pictured in 2012. Photo courtesy Saskatchewan New Democratic Party, Facebook.)