With candidates still criss-crossing the riding, making one final push to gather support heading into the last few days of the Lloydminster byelection, candidates proposed new ideas and traded barbs at the one and only debate during the 35-day campaign.
Luke Bonsan Green Party of Saskatchewan
Bonsan announced on Tuesday night, that if elected, he would be pushing for numerous changes, including free post-secondary education for Saskatchewan residents.
“Free post-secondary education has been implemented around the world, and it has been widely successful,” he said.
“Many of those countries have opened their borders internationally to any student, as long as they can meet the standards.”
Bonsan said that a higher educated population would earn more and be less likely to fall through the cracks.
“People with higher education, tend to live longer, and are less likely to fall into poverty,” he said. “So, it’s a really good idea to have a highly educated population, and it’s very cheap to pay for when you look at increased royalties and cutting things like corporate welfare.”
When it came to increased royalties, Bonsan said that other countries have been told that increasing royalties would be harmful to the economy, but they survived.
“Norway was told that if they increased their revenues, the resource industry would leave the country. And right now, their rates are at 78 per cent and they are popping out a record number of barrels (of oil).”
Bonsan admitted that the market dropped for six months, “But it worked out fine.”
“In Canada, we are not going to be giving away (our resources) for less than our infrastructure, that’s ridiculous.”
Bonsans added, “If income taxes are your highest income off of the energy sector, then you are doing something drastically wrong in your legislation.”
Another topic that Bonsan spoke about during the debate, and hopes to champion in Regina, is a smaller house initiative.
“It hasn’t been government run before, but there was a kid in the United States who made $4,500 during the summer, and built a 350 square foot house, with a loft bed with that money. He is now a homeowner and he is 17 years of age.
“The reality is that I’m 31, and I don’t own a home. I have worked hard and tried to save, but the reality is the housing market the way it is now. It’s very hard for young people to buy homes. Lloydminster has a problem of retaining people past a certain age because they reach a certain point and want to buy a house and they leave.”
Bonsan said this proposal would allow more people to stay in Lloydminster.
Darrin Lamoureux Saskatchewan Liberal Party
Lamoureux was the first candidate to speak out against the new Dr. Cooke facility, saying that it could have been better and designed for more beds.
“The Sask. Party has been given an opportunity to actually effect change in this province, and they haven’t,” he said.
“If you look at what the Dr. Cooke facility could have provided, an additional 45 beds could have freed up beds in the hospital that are presently just being used for care, and they could have been used for treatment,” the Liberal Leader said.
“This would have allowed more nurses and more doctors to be brought to Lloydminster to ease the burden on the health-care system in Lloydminster. To me, it’s important that we do something about this.”
Lameroux also announced that the government should build a pipeline that would take oil from Lloydminster to the Port of Churchill.
“This isn’t a plan, it’s about engagement, and engaging the First Nation communities, and allow them the ability to decide if they want to be part of this plan,” he said.
Lameroux said that this engagement would allow for the pipeline to be created, and for Saskatchewan resources to get to a port that is open seven months out of the year.
“And if there was a larger investment in this port, the Canadian government would probably invest in a few ice breakers that would allow for a longer shipping period,” he said.
The Liberal leader said that this government has been wasting money, he jokingly refereed to the current Saskatchewan party as the PC Party, “The PC government ... I mean the Saskatchewan Party has had the opportunity to keep spending at two per cent of inflation, until the debt was retired and they would have retired their debt and would have save $533 million in debt repayment, that could of been put into the health-care system.
“That $533 million would have gone a long way.”
Wayne Byers Saskatchewan NDP
Byers said that this government has a spending problem.
“They have $5 billion a year that they have been spending every year, and that is more than what we had back in 2007,” he said.
He went on to say that Lloydminster isn’t seeing any benefits to that increase spending.
“We aren’t getting a good deal with that additional $5 billion, and it’s important that people know that our area of the province is contributing to our province and I think that our municipalities are not receiving their fair share for the RM roads and we are definitely not seeing that money come back to us on Highway 21.
“Highway 21 is used by everyone in this constituency, and it’s used by the oil industry and tourism industry.”
Byers, who has been positioning himself as the champion of affordable housing in the byelection, said that this government needs to step up do more on the issues.
“I had an opportunity to meet with the tenants of Hallsholme (Apartments) the other day, and (requirements to live there) are based on income and for a lot of seniors, they cannot afford to pay the high rents that people are seeing in Lloydminster.
“We also are seeing in Lloydminster big increases without notice, and when you are in a high housing project, like Hallsholme, you know how much it is going to cost you going month to month.”
Byers said that tenants in affordable housing aren’t taken by surprise when it comes to rent.
Wait times in the province have become incredibly long under this government, Byers said.
“This time around, I’m hearing that the wait times can range between six hours to eight hours. One family I spoke with said that they came to the Lloydminster Hospital one day, left and actually came back the next day with their 13-year-old daughter. While waiting to see a doctor, the daughter’s appendix burst while waiting in the waiting room.”
Byers said people are even reverting to exaggerating about what is wrong with them to get in to see a doctor faster.
“Hearing these stories at the doorstep is unfortunate, but if we can have the right tools to keep the doctors here, and have the right healthy environment for them to work here.”
Byers said that the government needs to create the proper environment to work here, and stay here.
Colleen Young Saskatchewan Party
Young said that this government has done an excellent job prioritizing the needs of the province.
“There are priorities that have to be dealt with, and yes it does take money to take care of some of the infrastructure cost, and some of health-care costs, and the educational costs,” she said. “I think that this government has been very accountable, and has spent the taxpayers’ dollars wisely. If you can show me another government that hasn’t come along in the past and spent money on priority projects, I would be surprised.”
On the issue of health care, Young said that this government has done a lot of work make health care in the region a priority.
“There has been a lot of work done by the Saskatchewan Party, by setting up educational programs, new licensing, work between the colleges. I think that we have see the work that has been done on the Bi-Provincial Working Group on health care has done a lot of work, in the last year with regards to addressing some of the issues and concerns that have happened around health care,” she said.
Young said that this government has, with the government of Alberta, come to an understanding, “That will address some of the issues that have happened in this community.”
Young said that there are more doctors in Lloydminster now, than in the under the previous NDP government.
“There are more now than there was seven, eight, or even ten years ago. Some choose to leave the province, for what ever their reasons are,” she said. “But there are many opportunities here in Lloydminster and the province of Saskatchewan.”
Royalties in the province is a key priority for Young, saying that the proposal that NDP Leader Cam Broten has introduced would be harmful to the province’s future.
“By playing with royalty rates in the province, I think it has been shown in Alberta and in Saskatchewan that people don’t want the change (in royalties).”
Advance polls begin today
Advance voting in the constituency of Lloydminster byelection begins today at 3 p.m. central time (2 p.m. mountain time).
Ballots cast during advance voting will be counted after the close of polls on Nov. 13.
There will be five consecutive days of voting in advance of byelection day:
• Nov. 6, 7 and 10 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. central time (2 p.m. to 9 p.m. mountain time).
• Nov. 8 and 9 from noon to 7 p.m. central time (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. mountain time).
Advance voting will take place at three locations:
• Pierceland Community Centre, 184-4 Ave. South, Pierceland.
• Kinsmen Community Hall, 108-4 Ave., Paradise Hill.
• Constituency of Lloydminster Returning Office, 4417-50 Ave., Lloydminster.