Meili: Key to improving health and well-being is to go ‘upstream’ and grow local economy

Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili speaks at a Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Prince Albert Inn on Oct. 2, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

“The cost of living continues to grow and, as a result, people are struggling.”

– Ryan Meili

Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili spoke about the need to keep money in the province during a speech in Prince Albert on Wednesday.

Also a Saskatoon physician, Meili suggested the main barrier standing between people’s health and well-being are low incomes. He said the issue is a ripple effect into major problems impacting all of Saskatchewan: mental health, homelessness, crime and addictions.

Several Saskatchewan NDP MLAs gathered in the Prince Albert Inn for the Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Carlton candidate Troy Parenteau, federal candidate Harmony Johnson-Harder, Mayor Greg Dionne and city councillors were also in attendance.

Meili said as he and other NDP members travel the province, they’ve heard several concerns about the economy falling.

“The economic growth is slow, the job growth is slow, incomes are stagnant. The cost of living continues to grow and, as a result, people are struggling,” said Meili.

He added that the government needs to flee “this four-year trap” and start looking into future generations.

He referenced a 2017 report by #TransformSask called The Upstream Economy: A Generational Dialogue for Transformative Change. Many of the issues Saskatchewan is facing, explained Meili, can be reduced by going ‘upstream’ to the problem of a falling economy.

He said fixing this lies in three core principles: Innovation, pursuing new markets and ensuring all Saskatchewan people are included in economic success.

Meili said it’s crucial government includes those who have traditionally been marginalized as the economy grows.

“When we improve the lives of the people who find themselves at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, we improve everyone’s bottom line,” he said.

“When it’s our roads, our schools, our new Prince Albert hospital, our bridges, those are paid for with our tax dollars and they should be built by our companies and our workers.” The room broke out in applause.

Meili referenced a BDO Canada report that was released on Tuesday. It says 56 per cent of Saskatchewan residents have a non-mortgage debt of over $20,000—the highest in the country.

He said he’ll be making many more trips to Prince Albert as the NDP work to claim the Carlton seat from the Saskatchewan Party’s Joe Hargrave.

“People are looking for a change and I think Troy is going to be a great option for people to choose,” he said.

The NDP’s Nicole Rancourt is currently the MLA for Prince Albert Northcote.