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Legislative Report (21 March 2005)

Spring Session Opening

21 March 2005

The opening of the spring session of the Saskatchewan Legislature on March 14 once again gives our Opposition Caucus a chance to assess Premier Calvert’s government. On top of the list of priorities in Opposition is our provincial economy. The issue of federal equalization payments and a better deal for Saskatchewan is obviously crucial as we face severe financial problems across our province. To accomplish this we must consistently pressure Ottawa to come up with a deal at least as good as that which Newfoundland and Labrador received recently from the Prime Minister.


While we have already received a measure of equalization in recent payments from Ottawa, there is much more to come before Saskatchewan gets its fair share of transfer payments. With spring seeding just around the corner, Saskatchewan farmers are facing  the most difficult cash crunch in decades. Low grain prices, frozen grain and record high fuel and fertilizer costs will see many farmers with no ability to finance another crop year. Even though Ottawa has finally decided to waive the mandatory farmer deposit on the CAIS farm support program, the program itself will deliver only a small fraction of the assistance farmers need to survive this year. When weighed against Ottawa’s decision to cancel the Farm Improvement Loans program and Premier Calvert’s decision to once again dramatically raise Sask Crop Insurance premiums, farmers are still left with virtually no optimism about the new crop year.


Our ailing health care services will also continue to worsen unless steps are taken to streamline surgical waiting lists, hire more frontline staff, and cut back on the ever- increasing cost of health care administration. More funding in health care is essential but will only be beneficial if it is targeted to the immediate needs of Saskatchewan people. As we head into Saskatchewan’s second century, Premier Calvert still appears to have no vision for the future of our province. Certainly we are all very proud of our  Saskatchewan heritage and look forward to the many happy celebrations across our province this summer. However, we must take the firm and necessary steps to grow our provincial economy for our young people and our future generations.


So far, indications are that, outside the provincial budget, there is very little legislation of substance to be introduced by the present NDP government. I will be taking every opportunity to remind the government of the need for affirmative action towards a bright and immediate future for the people of Saskatchewan. Thank-you for your continuing support.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!



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