There was nothing in Wednesday's provincial throne speech to address the economic growth needs in the province, according to the MLA for the Battlefords.
"This speech basically missed all the important points for a growing economy," said Len Taylor in response to the address.
The speech, delivered in the legislature by Lieutenant-Governor Gordon Barnhart Wednesday afternoon, outlined Premier Brad Wall's legislative agenda for the new legislative fall session.
Taylor said the mandate of the government is to "manage the economy for today and tomorrow, and so much of this throne speech dealt with what's happened in the past couple of years."
He adds so much of the speech was a made up of promises that had been announced before but had not yet been acted upon, and Taylor said he expected more from the government as to what direction it would take the province.
There was little in the speech addressing issues in the northwest region, Taylor said. One of the biggest needs was to address the shortage of skilled labour in the region. That was not addressed in the speech, he said.
Taylor also was not happy with the government's plans to deal with affordable housing or additional policing, in particular.
He said the government's proposal announced in the throne speech to construct 1,000 new affordable homes in the next five years does nothing for those needing to rent.
"This throne speech completely ignores affordable rental housing," said Taylor, noting that all the government had to offer was a purchase program, not rental units.
"I see very little that the government has stated that would have an impact in the Battlefords," said Taylor.
He was also critical of the government for not addressing transportation needs. Taylor said there was no mention at all in the speech about improving the Saskatchewan economy through additional initiatives.
Taylor was dismissive of the government's focus on significantly expanding emergency medical services, partnering with the helicopter-based Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service.
"Lots of other things should be the focus," Taylor said. Among other things, he points to the photo ID program announced in the speech as a coming requirement for elections in the province. Taylor worries photo ID might disenfranchise many voters, particularly the elderly and low income people.
"There's no consultation on photo ID, there's no outcry from the public that we need this," said Taylor.
Taylor also doesn't notice mention of any further capital projects in the throne speech. In particular, he said, there is no mention of health capital for Saskatchewan Hospital or rural long-term care facilities, beyond possible privatization of the latter in the cities.
Taylor did say the government acknowledges the need for more beds, but did not indicate how that issue would be addressed.
The Battlefords MLA also repeated his call for more police officers assigned to the Battlefords in the wake of crime severity index statistics showing North Battleford to be number one in Canada for criminal activity.
Taylor said the throne speech indicated 30 new police officers would be added to the province this coming year.
"Will any of them be assigned to the Battlefords? I don't know, I hope so," he said.
He also said there could be an increase in the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Program across the province.
As for the ongoing issue of when a new Saskatchewan Hospital would be built, that issue was not mentioned in the Throne Speech and Taylor regards it as a missed opportunity for the government to provide clarity as to what is going on.
"I think the government has missed a great opportunity to give us some confidence and hope," said Taylor.
Instead, he says people must wait again until the spring budget to see if any health capital is being allocated to Sask. Hospital.
Taylor said he remains hopeful the government will live up to their commitment to go ahead with the new hospital, but adds he is seeing no indication from the government's vision statement that it's on their agenda at this time.