When asked to send in questions for the Saskatchewan Opposition leader, the Lloydminster Source readership responded with questions ranging from health care to temporary foreign workers.
Cam Broten, who was elected leader of the NDP last year, was in Lloydminster last week, for a meeting with community groups and he held a barbecue with the local NDP riding association.
Broten’s first question was on the ability to bridge the gap between the provincial government and the aboriginal communities in the area.
Broten said that in order to build a stronger relationship with the aboriginal community in the province, they must recognize that both groups have a shared future.
“The wellbeing of First Nations communities affects not only First Nations communities,” he said. “We are in this province together. First and foremost, there is a moral imperative to do better and we look at poverty, which is on the doorstep on many of our communities and children not having the basics. That is not acceptable.”
Broten said that in self interest, there is an economic imperative to do better as well.
“Professor Eric Howe, of the University of Saskatchewan, speaks about the billions of dollars that we are missing out on in our provincial economy because we aren’t properly engaging the First Nations community in every way possible,” he said.
“I believe that in Saskatchewan, every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Whether they are born in Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Onion Lake, or in any other part of the province, it shouldn’t matter and we should have that ability and as a province that is how we would do better.”
Broten said that by acknowledging that there is a shared future with the aboriginal community in the province, both the province and the aboriginal community will be able to foster a longstanding relationship that will be beneficial to both parties.
“It’s also about the decisions that are made as well,” he said. “It’s about the partnerships in education and training, where there is a need for workers here in the province. It only makes sense to have the dollars go into the right skills training for First Nations people, so they can fully partici-pate.”
With the high job vacancy rate in the province, and the need for workers, one small business owner asked Broten what his position was on bringing more workers to the area and what he thought of the TFW program.
“It’s my view that a Canadian should never be displaced from a job that they are doing. There have been glaring reports of places, even right here in Saskatchewan, that Canadians have been displaced. There have been other examples of where TFWs have been taken advantage of, and not treated well.
“When looking at TFW (program), the first thing should be that Canadians should not be displaced from work, and if there are TFW here already they should be treated well and their rights should be looked after and they should not be taken advantage of,” said Broten, adding there should be a much bigger focus on recruiting Canadians to jobs.
“That means having the right education and training, and also having employers making the jobs attractive as well.
“Competition is good for recruitment as well.” Health care in the area was a key concern that Broten heard about while on his one-day tour through the riding of Lloydminster.
Broten said that the current government has to get away from Regina and listen first hand from the people across the province about the issues that are affecting them day-to-day.
“Even while I was here in Lloydminster, I heard about the hurdles and barriers that were being placed in front of people,” he said.
“So there needs to be recognition of the problems, and more action on those problems. It’s fine for the government to sign an MOU with the province of Alberta, but it would be better to sign some cheques to ensure better care is being provided.
“The first step for better health care is about listening to people in the area and with that you would be able to get better health care and better follow through.”
Broten said that what isn’t acceptable is the passing of the buck back and forth between the two provinces.
“People in Lloydminster don’t view themselves as living on one side of the border; they view themselves as residents of Lloydminster,” he said. “So they want good health care and they deserve good health care as well.
Broten said that it’s not acceptable that the planning in Edmonton or Regina provided poor care for the people of Lloydminster