Several members of the Saskatchewan Party including Premier Scott Moe were in Prince Albert to hear from residents Tuesday at the premier’s annual barbecue.
The event, held Tuesday evening in Kinsmen Park, gave Saskatchewan Party members and non-members alike a chance to have a conversation with Moe or with several of the other area MLAs.
“Today, like last year, like any other year, is about engaging with the constituents in Prince Albert and the region around Prince Albert as well,” Moe said.
He said visitors came from Weirdale, Kinistino, Birch Hills and other surrounding communities.
“(It’s about) just talking to them, understanding what’s on their mind and bringing back to the government conversations that Joe (Hargrave) Nadine (Wilson) and we have on behalf of the people we represent.”
In addition to Hargrave, Wilson and Moe, MLA Delbert Kirsch was in attendance, as was Prince Albert Northcote nominee Alana Ross and former Northcote MLA Victoria Jurgens.
Moe said the reception was generally positive.
“People are understanding that the last couple of years, economically speaking have been a little bit slower across the province,” Moe said.
“They really do feel, not only in Prince Albert but across Saskatchewan, that the tougher days are behind us and they’re looking ahead. They’re looking ahead to the opportunity we have and the industries that are creating wealth.”
Moe said locally that includes agriculture, which should see a strong crop year in the region this season, and timber. He said there are “hopeful opportunities” for several industries in the area.
He also said many people have approached him about a timeline for a new hospital.
Moe said the province is still committed for a new hospital for the region but said it will still take some time.
“We’re very proud to be going through the stages and steps to ensure that we will be able to deliver a facility here in Prince Albert … that will be able to deliver the health care needs we have,” he said.
“It’s a process that never happens soon enough, but it is a process that is necessary to ensure we will have a facility to provide the necessary services as we move forward into the next few decades.”
Moe said an announcement date will come in the “near future.”
Hargrave said he heard similar feedback.
“Mostly I’ve heard from people, ‘you’re doing a great job.’ They realize as well it’s tougher economic times these last few years but that it’s coming along,” he said.
“They’re saying, ‘thank goodness the Sask. Party is in power and leading us into the future..’”
He agreed that people are asking about when the hospital will be announced.
He said it’s a topic the Saskatchewan Party is “proud” it will be able to deliver for the city and for northern Saskatchewan.
The other thing Hargrave has been hearing about is how pleased people are the province will be supporting the operating costs of the Rose Garden Hospice once it’s built.
“This is a much-needed facility. I’m so proud of my involvement and our party’s involvement … to make sure we have ongoing funding for that facility.”
The government has promised up to $2 million annually in operating funds for the hospice, beginning in 2021.
A fundraising effort is currently underway to raise the funds necessary to construct the facility. Its price tag is $4 million.
That project is being spearheaded by local philanthropist Malcolm Jenkins, who announced a $500,000 contribution towards the project this past February, and has since promised further contributions, including over $75,000 in matched ticket sales from the recent Broadway North production, Mamma Mia.
Others, including Duane Braaten, Dr. Randy Friesen, the Ramji family, Pat Weir and more have also contributed to the cause.
Hargrave praised those initiatives, including the matched ticket sales from Mamma Mia.
“That was so nice to hear. They’re going to get that built and it’s going to be great for us,” he said.
A truck and tractor pulling event will be held at the Prince Albert Exhibition Grandstand this Friday and Saturday evening to raise more funds for the construction of the hospice.