(21 September 2011)
Provincial Election Nears
On November 7, the people of Saskatchewan will be presented with a choice: to move forward with Premier Brad Wall and your Saskatchewan Party government, or backwards with Dwain Lingenfelter and the NDP. I am proud of our government’s record and am confident that on election day your choice will be a simple one.
In the 2007 election campaign, we made several promises. I can report today that we have kept most of those promises – 145, to be exact. We did what we said we would do.
One of the first promises we made, and kept, was to establish set election dates, the results of which you will see in just a few short weeks. One of the main advantages to set election dates is that they do not allow the government of the day to play political games with the electorate, something we saw far too often during the NDP’s sixteen years in power.
While that was an important promise, there were many others that we made, and kept.
We promised to invest $1.8 billion to fix the province’s highways – to date, we have funded $2.2 billion in improvements and repairs to Saskatchewan’s transportation infrastructure. That’s more than 5,000 kilometres of roadwork, and there’s still more to do.
Our government dramatically increased the number of training seats for doctors and nurses and created a program designed specifically to attract physicians to rural Saskatchewan. We promised to take action to address the issue of unacceptably-long waiting times for surgeries – today in Saskatchewan, 75 per cent of people wait less than 18 months for their procedure; the number of people waiting longer than 12 months is down 55 per cent.
We undertook an immediate review of the Crop Insurance program and then enhanced coverage for farmers. For years, farmer s and ranch families shouldered a disproportionately high share of the education property tax burden – because of steps taken by our government, agricultural land owners now pay on average 80 per cent less education property tax than they did in 2007.
We promised to be fiscally responsible, and, since 2007, have tabled four consecutive balanced budgets, reduced the provincial debt by more than 40 per cent and lowered income taxes, putting more money back in your pocket.
For far too long, the needs of our seniors were ignored - our government promised to address this. We have taken action through initiatives such as more than doubling the amount available to low income seniors through the Seniors Income Program and funding the construction of 13 new long-term care homes in rural Saskatchewan. We did what we said we would do, which is in sharp contrast to current NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter. Mr. Lingenfelter has a proven track record of saying one thing, but doing another.
Lingenfelter says he wants to make life more affordable, yet, when he was in government, the NDP raised taxes 17 times. He says he wants better healthcare and shorter waiting lists, but when he was in government, the NDP closed 52 rural hospitals and the Plains Hospital in Regina, and waiting lists got longer.
Lingenfelter says he wants to help farmers, but his government cancelled the GRIP program and tore up signed contracts with thousands of Saskatchewan farmers. When he was agriculture minister, producers staged the largest protest in the province’s history on the steps of the Legislature.
The leader of the NDP says he wants better highways, but when he was Deputy Premier, he told people in Val Marie to fix their own highways. Lingenfelter says he wants a strong economy, but when he was in government, Saskatchewan’s economy was one of the weakest economies. Our population dropped by more than 11,000 people in his last four years in office and we were a “have-not” province. Compare that to today, with our population at a record high of 1,053,960 people and Saskatchewan expected to lead the country in economic growth both this year and next.
The list goes on and on.
In conclusion, I would urge that you carefully consider the positive, forward-looking action taken by our government over the last four years to move Saskatchewan forward and compare it to Dwain Lingenfelter’s record of economic stagnation and harmful cuts to services for rural people.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Donna.
Past Legislative Reports