2006 Year in Review

2006 Year in Review

January

  • Report delivered following a trip by Brad Wall and several Saskatchewan Party MLA’s to Fort McMurray. The report says there are a number of companies already doing business in that area. However, the potential for further inroads is tremendous. The report recommends doing a better job at cultivating relationships with businesses in these areas, and trade incentives that would allow Saskatchewan businesses to compete more effectively in Fort McMurray
  • January 23rd—Brad Wall congratulates Stephen Harper on the election of a new Conservative government—including 14 government MLAs from Saskatchewan
February
  • The Saskatchewan Party endorses a call by mayors and municipalities for stable, long-term revenue sharing from the province.
  • The Saskatchewan Party complains that despite promises for a timely answer, patients who need the cancer drug Avastin are still waiting to hear whether the drug will be covered. Ultimately, the NDP rejects their request, making it the first time a government has failed to pay for a drug approved for use by the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.
  • Alphonse Bird, Chief of the FSIN makes a speech at the Saskatchewan Party convention in Saskatoon. That earns him an angry phone call from Deputy Premier Clay Serby.
March
  • Initial reports on problems at the Oyate Safe House are released. The report states that children were often left unsupervised, staff did not have adequate training and children were not referred to follow-up counseling or drug treatment. The most disturbing finding was that staff would ferry young women to boyfriend’s homes late at night and that children were still working on the streets while in the care of the safe house.
  • In late March the Saskatchewan Party calls on the provincial auditor and the children’s advocate to investigate the Oyate Safe House. Both reports are scathing in outlining how the safe house failed these young girls.
  • The Saskatchewan Party complains that basic questions about fraud awareness in government remain unanswered by the NDP. This is a theme through-out many reports released by the Provincial Auditor, including his most recent report in December of 06 stating that much more work must be done in the area of fraud awareness and prevention. The rules are there, but they are not being followed. Singled out for particular attention is the Department of the Environment.
  • Figures released by Statscan show that the NDP once again has failed to live up to a 1999 promise to hire 200 additional police officers.
  • The Saskatchewan Party calls on the NDP to extend the deadline for repayment of crop insurance balances so that farm families don’t get cut off. The NDP rejects the call.
  • The Saskatchewan Party calls for a public inquiry into the Meadow Lake Pulp Mill, the largest single money-losing investment in Saskatchewan history (over $800 million)
  • Provincial budget is released. It cuts the forecast for job growth by a third. Agriculture spending goes down, but the number of people working in the department increases. No comprehensive plan for health care spending and no targets for new nurses.
April
  • The Saskatchewan Party releases a bio-fuels strategy calling for new growth tax incentives, investment in local infrastructure, investment in labour force development, skills training and research and development. The plan calls for this province to become a leader in bio-fuels development and export while urging an emphasis on producer involvement. It also calls for a 10% ethanol blend in gas across the country by 2010.
  • No one seems to understand or know about the policy of Saskatchewan patients not needing prior approval to go out of province for treatment in all but three areas (MRI’s, bone density scans, cataract surgery). Saskatchewan Party says all patients should know about this best kept secret.
  • Saskatchewan Party blasts the NDP for spending $445,000 on budget advertising, including TV commercials featuring the Minister of Finance.
  • Gordon Barnhart appointed new L.G.
May
  • Alberta and BC sign the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement. The deal is expected to produce some 70,000 new jobs. The two provinces move to merge standards, with the highest standard to prevail in both provinces. Saskatchewan is not part of the agreement.
  • The provincial auditor says the Health Department’s nurse recruitment plan is “deficient”
  • At the end of May, two more NDP MLA’s get jobs as Legislative Secretaries. This means no NDP MLA has been left behind when it comes to getting extra money for additional duties.
June
  • Saskatchewan Party candidate Dustin Duncan scores a convincing win in the Weyburn- Big Muddy by-election June 19th. The NDP places third, despite a last minute attempt to buy voters with a promise to give Weyburn title to the Souris Valley Extended Care Centre plus $4.5 million. The NDP vote was 24%, their poorest performance since 1928.
  • Population numbers continue to tumble. According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan has the fewest number of people since July of 1982.
  • The Saskatchewan Party invites motorists to write in with the worst roads in the province and challenges the Premier to drive on those roads. Hundreds of entries are received. The Premier says he “doesn’t have time” to drive the roads selected in the contest.
  • Tax Freedom Day comes June 19th in Saskatchewan. Only one province—Quebec—has a tax freedom day that is later. Workers in these two provinces work longer than anywhere else to pay off what they owe the government.
  • Brad Wall takes up the cause of farmers in the south east who want $25 an acre paid for flooding.
  • Government’s report on Baby Paige case is vague on details. But it does acknowledge failures in communication and coordination previously outlined by the Saskatchewan Party.
July
  • A Statistics Canada Report shows that Saskatchewan had the highest crime rates for the eighth consecutive year. Justice Critic Don Morgan says the NDP is continuing to put the lives and property of Saskatchewan families at risk.
  • The Saskatchewan Party calls for a review of the NDP’s “let it burn” policy, saying the NDP is jeopardizing the lives and property of northern people. A fire in Stoney Rapids jumps the river and comes within a few feet of a brand-new $10 million hospital.
August
  • Following the abduction and sexual assault of a ten year old Saskatchewan boy and another boy from Winnipeg, Brad Wall calls for tougher sentences and release conditions for sexual offenders.
  • Job numbers show an increase in the number of people working, but a drop in the working-aged population. Economic Development Critic Lyle Stewart expressed concern that with the falling population, job growth is not sustainable.
  • The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses expresses concern that the NDP’s failure to fill nursing vacancies is causing deterioration in patient care and hospital closures in the Swift Current area.
  • Brad Wall concludes his summer tour. He calls for a series of specific steps, including a long term plan to replace Saskatchewan highways instead of the defeat and denial being expressed by the NDP . Wall also called for negotiations between the federal government and First Nations to expand on reserve home ownership in Saskatchewan.
September
  • Lorne Calvert dumps Kevin Yates from cabinet after Mr. Yates apparently expresses concerns over Calvert’s poor leadership.
  • The NDP establishes committees to look into ways of recruiting and retaining nurses in Saskatchewan. The plan is fundamentally flawed because it includes no representation from the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses. SUN says it has told the government what to do time and time again, so it won’t participate.
  • Brad Wall says there should be a bigger share of quota for Saskatchewan producers under the new softwood lumber agreement.
  • Community Resources Critic Ted Merriman calls for the removal of Buckley Belanger for his failure to protect children in the Oyate Safe House.
  • For the second straight year, Brad Wall attends the Global Business Forum. For the second straight year, there is no representation from the government of Saskatchewan.
  • Brad Wall urges the federal and provincial governments to change student loan regulations that claw back part time earnings. Wall said this could go a long way to helping solve Saskatchewan’s labour shortage.
  • Population figures released in September show a drop of 4571 people in one year. This means Saskatchewan’s population has dropped nine times in ten years and is now at its lowest point since 1982. The Saskatchewan Party says the blame lies squarely with the NDP for failing to adopt a full growth agenda.
  • Dustin Duncan is sworn-in as Saskatchewan’s youngest sitting MLA.
  • We mourn the loss of Martensville MLA Ben Heppner.
October
  • The NDP takes 65% of SaskPower profits for general revenue, while customers have been hit with rate hikes of approximately 15 per cent. The rate hike would not be needed, if the NDP did not take such a large portion of the profits from SaskPower.
  • The NDP releases its forestry task force report. One year after the closure of the Weyerhaueser Mill in Prince Albert, the NDP appears no closer to finding a buyer for the facility.
  • The NDP uses its majority on the Public Accounts Committee to prevent a former department head from answering questions about the Oyate Safe House.
  • The Saskatchewan Party calls for an inquest into the death of Doug Bonderud.
  • A report by the Canada West Foundation indicates young people are more likely to leave Saskatchewan than any other province in Canada. For the first time, Lorne Calvert admits Saskatchewan may have “a brand problem”.
  • Session begins with Throne Speech
November
  • Reduction in PST and new stat holiday .
  • Release of “Getting Back On Track—Addressing Saskatchewan Labour Shortage. Calls for assistance to employers in retraining and training the workforce, gearing training programs to local labour needs and an end to mandatory retirement.
  • The NDP heads into its annual convention with a resolution to re-name itself. The Saskatchewan Party invites all citizens to make suggestions and is flooded with replies.
  • SUN releases a report stating the province’s emergency rooms are under-staffed, under resourced and overcrowded. SUN says patient and nurse safety is being compromised because nurses are being forced to work alone. Stress on the job is increasing, because staff shortages mean employees cannot take holiday time.
  • Greg Brkich introduces a private member’s bill mandating the use of a bio-diesel blended fuel in Saskatchewan.
  • Rotating temporary closures of rural hospitals begin.
  • Saskatchewan Party calls for a rebate on tuition if students remain in the province after graduation. Manitoba and New Brunswick have such plans.
  • The Saskatchewan Party introduces legislation calling for set provincial election dates and the election of nominees for Senate appointments.
December
  • The fall session ends with the NDP in freefall when it comes to public support, and scrambling to find a way to remain afloat.
  • The state of the health care system remains fragile, the NDP appears more interested in hiring reputation management companies to get the spin right instead of actually solving problems like the Oyate Safe House. Meanwhile, the NDP has created a $900 million slush fund and an infrastructure fund with no rules on how money will be spent.
  • The Saskatchewan Party repeats a call for the auditor to investigate third party agencies responsible for the welfare of children. The Auditor says these groups receive $86 million from the NDP, yet there is no way to know if that money is being spent effectively, or getting to the people who need it.
  • Brad Wall calls for the establishment of an office in Calgary aimed at providing people living in Alberta with all the information they need to move back to Saskatchewan.