Health care and infrastructure were on Scott Moe’s mind Saturday as the Saskatchewan Party leader held a Saturday morning press conference in the biting wind outside of the Victoria Hospital.
Moe was joined by local candidates Alana Ross (Prince Albert Northcote) and Joe Hargrave (Prince Albert Carlton) to highlight his plan for the region, just hours before NDP leader Ryan Meili was set to speak outside the health authority’s regional office on Sixth Ave. West.
Moe touted his party’s commitment to building a 69-bed expansion of the current hospital for more than $300-million and his strategy to increase supports while balancing the budget by 2024.
He highlighted the projects funded in the region since 2007, including the provincial contribution to the new arenas and aquatic recreation centre and a new gym for Carlton Comprehensive High School, and said a re-elected Saskatchewan Party would improve upon that track record.
“Prince Albert has had a strong voice at that caucus table in Jo Hargrave over the course of the last four years, and I know Prince Albert will be well-served by adding a strong, Saskatchewan Party voice in electing Alanna Ross,” Moe said.
In addition to touting the investments of Saskatchewan Party years’ past, Moe also highlighted platform promises such as the active families’ benefit which will help with the cost of youth sports’ activities and the addition of 750 more child care spaces. He talked about expanding funding for autism services in youth and covering the costs of continuous glucose monitors for diabetic youth until they turn 18 and insulin pumps for all Saskatchewan residents with diabetes.
He said his party will introduce the home renovation tax credit for up to $2,100 and cut everyone’s power bill by ten per cent for one year.
“Each of these measures are designed to make life more affordable for Saskatchewan families,” he said.
Moe responded to the NDP’s plans for the city as well. The party has argued that the new project is not a new hospital, but rather an expansion and that it fails to serve the city’s needs. Moe disagrees.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
“We are building another tower. We are going to redo all of the intake, the emergency room, the surgical area, all of that will be redone and then refurbish the existing structure that is there. That is a solid structure.”
He said the NDP were the ones who tore down the former Holy Family hospital in Prince Albert without adding any beds to replace it.
“That’s where I was born,” he said.
“I find it offensive when we have an NDP party with a record of coming in and ripping down the hospital … promise a new hospital with no plan to pay for it and no intention of following through with that commitment.”
The NDP’s hospital announcement came with the announcement that they would build a second bridge crossing the North Saskatchewan River in P.A., a long gripe for some area residents.
Moe, though, argued that the bridge, like the promised hospital replacement, had not been included in the NDP’s platform costing, meaning there was no plan to actually bid it.
“They have said they would reprioritize the Sask. Builds plan. They would pull or shut down schools that have been announced or are already under construction to reprioritize those dollars. It doesn’t add up,” he said.
“They did not cost the capital commitments they made in Prince Albert. Even (former NDP leader) Cam Broten costed capital into his campaign commitments. Today’s NDP has not done so, which would, in my estimation, make the commitment not real.”
The Saskatchewan Party, Moe said, would build a new bridge if the city and surrounding municipalities were to also contribute to the project.
“We’ve funded bridges in Saskatoon,” Moe said.
“We’ve continued to talk about a bridge for Prince Albert through a partnership with the municipalities in the area if they so choose. What we’ve heard over the course of the last number of years is (the priority) is a new hospital. That’s why we’ve moved forward with expanding the beds in this hospital.”
New French School still a priority if government re-elected
One of the top priorities for the city’s Fransaskois community is the construction of a new school.
The local French Society has been working with the school division and the province on studying proposals for a new school — including a proposal to repurpose the former Rivier Academy.
On Saturday, Moe said a re-elected Saskatchewan Party would stand by that commitment to building three new French schools — one each in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert.
“We would continue where we left off with the conversations we have had on the three French schools. I have family members who have attended (the Prince Albert) school. I am intimately aware of the challenges we have in Prince Albert and French education in École Valois.
Moe said his party has a record of investing “heavily” in health and education infrastructure.
“Some of that investment has to flow through to the capacity for our French language schools here in the province.”