Suicide, the economy, climate change the focus of U of R election forum
REGINA -- The University of Regina hosted a provincial election candidates forum on Wednesday, with questions focused on suicide, Saskatchewan’s economy and addressing climate change.
The virtual forum was presented by the U of R’s Lifelong Learning Centre. Candidates included the Saskatchewan Party’s Tina Beaudry-Mellor, the NDP’s Nicole Saurer and the Green Party’s Naomi Hunter.
Stimulating Saskatchewan’s economy
When asked what each candidate plans to do to stimulate Saskatchewan economy, Saurer said the NDP would implement a ‘Saskatchewan First’ policy.
“We’re hearing from many people, who want to go to work and are frustrated with seeing contracts being given to companies from out of province,” said Saurer. “We think that our government should be stimulating Saskatchewan’s economy first, not necessarily Ontario’s economy, Alberta’s economy.”
Beaudry-Mellor pointed to the Sask. Party’s Growth Plan, released in November, as a ‘roadmap for recovery.’
“The Growth Plan talks about creating 100,000 jobs. It talks specifically about growing ag-tech as a sector,” said Beaudry-Mellor. “We have a plan to grow our value-added exports, we have a plan to advocate for Saskatchewan goods abroad.”
Beaudry-Mellor also mentioned Saskatchewan’s low unemployment rate, in comparison to other Canadian provinces.
Hunter said the Green Party’s plan to deal with the climate crisis would create new jobs and boost the province’s economy.
“Making sure that we switch over to clean energy is actually going to be the biggest job creation that Saskatchewan has ever had,” Hunter said.
DEALING WITH CLIMATE CHANGE
Hunter listed a number of Green Party plans, when asked what each candidate will do for the province to combat global warming.
“We need to bring back the solar net-metering program,” Hunter said. “We need to invest in heavily in renewables, and move to a 60-per-cent reduction in our carbon output within four years, and 100-per-cent renewable energy within 10.”
Hunter also said she plans to look at taking old oil and gas wells and turning them into geothermal, while using the same industry employees who may be out of work.
Saurer said the NDP would also reinstate the solar net-metering program, and provide rebates for residents to retrofit their homes.
“An NDP government would move to 50-per-cent renewable power generation by 2030, and 100-per-cent power generation from non-emitting sources by 2050,” said Saurer.
Beaudry-Mellor pointed to the Sask. Party’s support of a geothermal pilot project out of Torquay, made possible by the Saskatchewan Advantage for Innovation Fund.
“SaskPower has a letter of intent to construct an additional four, 5-megawatt power plants, for a total capacity of 25-megawatts on deep geothermal,” Beaudry-Mellor said. “It is employing many of the individuals who would have worked in the oil and gas sector.”
ADDRESSING YOUTH SUICIDE
When asked about how each candidate plans to addressing youth suicide in the province, Beaudry-Mellor said more needs to be done, in particular in increasing opportunities for young people in the north.
“There is going to be future growth. For example, the work that we’ve done with the Science Centre on coding and robotics, areas where there’s going to be job opportunities,” said Beaudry-Mellor. “It’s really proud of the work that we’ve done with our regional colleges there for continuing care aids so that they’re employment, and hopeful and optimistic opportunities.”
Saurer said the NDP takes this matter very seriously, and would create concrete actions to help those in crisis.
“It’s something that we aren’t going to stop pushing on. And, should we have the privilege of forming government, that suicide strategy (bill) would be something that we would be putting forward,” said Saurer.
Hunter said youth suicide is ‘an epidemic in this province.’ She is calling for stronger legislation and stated she agrees with the NDP in creating a Suicide Strategy Bill.