(16 June 2011)
Government Investment in Provincial Parks
We are blessed in Saskatchewan with 34 provincial parks, more than 100,000 lakes, and thousands of hours of sun, which combine to create a wide range of camping and recreational experiences for you and your family. Our government is proud of our publicly-owned provincial parks and we are committed to keeping them that way. The Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU) would have you believe otherwise. The SGEU is using union dues it collects from its hard-working members to pay for a series of attack ads in which they claim our government has an agenda to privatize. This is simply not true. That is not to say the private sector doesn't play a role in our parks system. Since the inception of parks in the 1930s, the private sector has provided high-quality services and facilities to park visitors – commercial lessees operate approximately 170 business services in provincial parks and recreation sites. Our government will continue to own and manage all park land and operate basic park services.
The SGEU ads also claim there are new user fees, service cuts and cabins being sold off. Here are the facts:
We will continue working to improve the quality of our great outdoors and park services so that you and your family can enjoy our parks both today and in the months and years ahead.
- There are no new user fees. The only new fee in Saskatchewan provincial parks since 2007 was an out-of-province camping fee implemented for the summer of 2010 and it was also removed in December 2010.
- Our government has invested $33 million in capital projects for our provincial parks since 2008 – compare that to the former NDP government who invested only $13 million in their last three years in government. That funding is being used to upgrade and replace service centers, boat launches, potable water systems, picnic tables and barbeques.
- We have also kept and exceeded our 2007 campaign promise to add 1,000 electrified campsites.
According to Saskatchewan Agriculture’s latest crop report, 82 per cent of this year’s crop has been seeded. However, while seeding is nearly complete in most northern and central areas, producers in southern areas continue to face seeding challenges with wet field conditions and recent rains. This year, the Crop Insurance Unseeded Acreage Benefit was increased from $50 to $70 per eligible acre for Crop Insurance customers with land they are unable to seed due to excess moisture. We also recently expanded the Unseeded Acreage Benefit to compensate Crop Insurance customers for land they were unable to seed because of impassable roads caused by flooding. In addition, the Crop Insurance seeding deadline was extended for the second consecutive year to allow producers more time to get their crops seeded and still be insured. I hope these program changes have helped producers facing excess moisture challenges.
The Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee and the Teachers' Bargaining Committee continue to work towards reaching a new collective agreement. Most recently, the two sides spent seven days in the mediation process. Even though the process has concluded and unresolved issues still remain, both parties agree that this was an important step forward and that progress was made. The mediator will continue to make himself available to work with both sides as he prepares a report. The parties will come together to receive the report before it is submitted to the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. The report and recommendations are being anticipated by June 30, 2011.
In the meantime, both parties have agreed to cease all advertising, job sanctions and not comment further on the mediation process during this period. This is good news for students as school classes, activities and graduation ceremonies will move forward.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Don.
Past Legislative Reports