Debate: Provincial election

By and in Opinions

The Saskatchewan Party

JEREMY BRITZ

Graphics Editor

Disclaimer: I am currently an undecided voter. However, I do see merit in learning and understanding each party’s platform, so for the sake of bipartisanship these are the reasons why I, as a student, would vote for the Saskatchewan Party.

It’s time for sleepy Saskatchewan to head to the polls. Compared to our neighbours to the west, the political climate in Saskatchewan feels almost like a snooze fest. However, it’s not because voters are apathetic; for the most part, voters don’t have much to complain about in Saskatchewan. 

Our unemployment rate is the lowest in Canada, the population is growing at a steady rate and since 2007, the Saskatchewan Party has increased the province’s education budget by over 100 per cent.

While oil production is declining — as is the case with the rest of the country — other Saskatchewan industries are predicted to expand greatly in the coming years.

The Conference Board of Canada predicts Saskatchewan’s gross domestic product to expand by two per cent in 2016. In addition to our growing economy, our growing population will also provide a larger tax base and increases in infrastructure.

The Saskatchewan Party has announced the Highways 2020 plan, which includes spending $2.7 billion over four years for highways transportation and capital. This will no doubt lead to more jobs and improved infrastructure for all of Saskatchewan.

Additionally, the Saskatchewan Party has invested in students who are currently in school and further enhanced policies to ensure they are successful after graduation.

Many university students are interested in purchasing a home and starting a family after they graduate. The Saskatchewan Party has made changes to the Graduate Retention Program, allowing up to $10,000 of GRP credits to be used towards a down payment on a new home.

In addition to diversified returns for graduates, the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship, which is available for all high school graduates, is expected to increase from $500 to $750. This is applied every year for four years to post-secondary students and, with the increase, would save students approximately $3,000 in tuition costs.

Additionally, $360 million has been invested in education and skills development for Indigenous peoples — a 96 per cent increase since 2007. Furthermore, $10 million was provided in the year 2015 to improve access by addressing disability-related complications in relation to education and training.

Last but not least, Premier Brad Wall was the only provincial leader to stand up to Prime Minister Trudeau’s logistically incompetent claims to bring 25,000 refugees to Canada within a two month period.

He faced considerable backlash for this, although most people didn’t bother to take the complexities of the issue into consideration. While I fully support every effort to relocate war-torn refugees, I believe that we should do it in a safe and sensible manner to ensure the health and safety of both the refugees and the Canadian population.

Trudeau later backtracked and pushed the date to February of 2016, which was a much more sensible decision that was beneficial for all of the parties involved.

The Saskatchewan Party has a strong leader and their policies have held up through economic turbulence. So my question to you, if it isn’t broken then why try to fix it?


The New Democratic Party of Saskatchewan

TRAVIS HEBERT

Unlike Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party, who have no problem giving back to foreign consultants and spending taxpayer money on “gravy planes,” the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party are determined to put more money into the pockets of the people of Saskatchewan.

When it comes to standing up for the people of Saskatchewan, the NDP is the only party for the job. Party leader Cam Broten unveiled his plan for the future of post-secondary education during a meeting with students at the University of Saskatchewan on Mar. 16.

Many would agree that after hearing all that was introduced, it would be completely self-defeating for any student to not vote for the NDP.

Broten has promised that, if elected, the party will make the lives of those attending or planning to attend a Saskatchewan university easier by doubling the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship. This means raising the scholarship from $500 to $1000 — that provides enough financial relief to purchase a full course load’s worth of textbooks, or pay that daunting first month’s rent.

The scholarship increase is only the beginning. The party has also included a promise to convert provincial student loans to government grants — while eliminating existing student loan interest.

Since the Sask Party came into power, tuition has increased by a whopping 34 per cent. Saskatchewan already has the second highest average tuition rate in the country, and that price will only continue to climb if Wall succeeds with what Broten has described as a plan of “draconian cuts.” 

Wall has stood up to the federal government in letters and at climate summits, defending the use of “clean coal.” But the larger question at hand is when will Wall stand up for the people of Saskatchewan? When will he stand up for the giant funding gap that our province’s First Nations schools are experiencing?

The NDP promise to hold the federal government accountable. The party will ensure that the federal government will continue to work to close the First Nations funding gap, as on-reserve education is a federal responsibility. This province doesn’t need a government to fight against clean energy. This province needs a government who will fight for the people.

Other initiatives promised by the NDP include putting healthcare workers back on the front-line, which includes hiring more doctors and nurses and reducing wait times in emergency rooms. Saskatchewan’s crown corporations will also be protected, the economy will be diversified and a Green Innovation Technology Fund will be established.

Lastly, of course, the NDP plans to keep what is working, and stop what doesn’t. They will cut the Sask Party’s monetary waste, and invest it back into what is really important to the entire population. If you want a province that benefits all people, a vote for the NDP is the only way to go.


How do STUDENTS plan to vote in the upcoming provincial election?

Election Poll - Jeremy Britz

*the results from this survey were conducted through an anonymous poll of students via thesheaf.com during March.

Infographic: Jeremy Britz / Graphics Editor