Going to talk (interesting thing to write, should it not say - going to write about...?) about the province of Saskatchewan and where I think it seems to be heading for in the months and year(s) to come.
Since the start of the latest economic downturn that hit the world starting in 2008, many say precipitated by the events from the firm of Lehman Brothers in the United States, Sask. has enjoyed a continuous economic boom. To say that this has been a surprise to many so called "experts" would be a gross understatement.
This boom has been fueled by natural resources. These include crude oil, potash, diamonds, wheat, pulse crops, and uranium among others. When one sectors' prices faltered, such as oil, others like potash would see an increase and vice versa.
This has led to an large increase in population in urban centres throughout the province and resulted in a housing boom that created increased employment in the construction trades with resultant economic spin offs as well.
Recent events seem to indicate that there may be some possible concerns on the horizon for the province.
First off there was the announcement this past week by the company Vale that a 3 billion dollar potash mine project was put on an indefinite hold instead of starting in 2013 due to the companies corporate strategy evaluation. Then another potash company announced a mine shut down for a month in order to adjust output to reflect decreased demand for international customers. Then there is also an election in the capital city of Regina for a new Mayor this fall to replace a truly progressive and one could say visionary incumbent and all candidates are either ill suited for the job or rabid small minded socialists that are intent on destroying all possibilities of expansion in the city. They decry the replacement plan for a decrepit football stadium with safety issues and vow to return to the old days of tax, tax and tax even more and spend the revenue on more bureaucracy and ill advised pet social feel good matters.
The provincial government, now in its second term, seems to be drifting in a way with no discernible sense of purpose and plan in mind other than re-election. The bright days of the first term with a vision and a definite time line plan seem to have withered away.
A poorly thought out plan for a Children's Hospital continues to unfold with more and more funding being allocated and not a shovel has been put in the ground yet. But no one in government or the unions as well, has ever had the courage to ask where the staffing for this hospital will come from and at what cost. Instead they all want to win favour with the public by being on the good side of a warm and fuzzy feel good topic instead of asking tough questions. And rest assured that the tax paying public will howl when they discover that taxes will increase yet again to pay for this and watch how the demands for more money will ripple through the health care system.
Speaking of which, how come no one ever asked why, since health care eats up to 65% of the provincial budget, the health system does not consider having buildings staffed with various skill practitioners instead of the present where doctors have the offices in a stand alone clinic or by themselves. And chiropractors have stand alone offices, massage therapists have stand alone offices, dentists have stand alone offices, foot specialists have stand alone offices and the list goes on with all having costs associated with being stand alone. How about having a 5 story building that houses doctors, dentists, MRI's, X-Rays, therapists and the like? This way front line staff could determine what services a patient needs and directs them to the appropriate one and if further care is required, could be done in the same building and at the same time?
Think about it, costs would be reduced and time spent waiting to be referred to another field of wellness would be reduced - novel concept indeed.
I suspect that too many special interest groups would see possible revenue streams dry up and would mount a vigorous campaign to discredit and stop something like this.
That being said, the future still looks good for this province but I believe the time is at hand for all people and not just government to pause, reflect and recommit to advancing the economic health of the province and with a plan to do so.
I learned a new word this week. It came from the comments of Uruguayan president José “Pepe” Mujica who warned in a speech this week that Argentina is “undergoing a highly autarkic process”.
Hmm, had to look that up and after reading the definition had to agree with him.
A sign of this process (you really did not think I would spoil your fun in looking up this word "autarkic" by telling you did you?) is the announcement that the Argentine government has dcided to look at nationalizing the company that prints its currency, now in private hands.
In Russia a court has sentenced a punk rock band to 2 years in jail for "something" as a result of the band intruding into a church and performing an anti Putin song at the front of the church. Many observers see this as a political act by the government against those protesting against Mr. Putin and not as a result of the entering of a church and disrupting the sanctity of the church. On the face of it, one would have to agree and this shows that for every halting step for individual freedom in Russia, there can be a counter reaction that sometimes is very harsh. Sadly many people think that once a country starts on the democratic process, that all will be wonderful and freedom and liberties will just "happen" and all will be wonderful. The reality is that every country has a long political history and many institutions and to expect that the institutions will gladly remove themselves and the people running the same institutions will fade away is just a little too naive. It all takes time and in this brave new world of instant everything, people forget this important fact.
The President of Iran has called the existence of Israel an "insult" and says the country will not exist in a modern Middle East. Considering which country has won all armed conflicts in the Middle East and which country has the best military, one has to wonder at the wisdom of saying this at all let alone in public. As the old saying goes- "be careful for what you ask for".
WikiLeaks founder Assange has been granted political asylum by the embassy of the government of Ecuador in Great Britain. One wonders if he will ever leave the Embassy as the British government has vowed to arrest him if he steps outside of the Embassy grounds where while within he enjoys sanctuary from the British law. The whole story behind the supposed criminal charges in Sweden and purported links to the American Government is curious.
Conspiracy theorists are having a field day on that.
One of the fun aspects of reading international news sites is how they can offer completely different conclusions on the exact same item. Case in point is in one prominent American site - CBSnews.com reported that the "Feds may tap oil reserve to ease gas prices" while the Canadian Globe and Mail stated that " Pipelines, glut of cheap crude raise doubts over oil sands expansion".
You have to shake your head.
This is our last week here in Regina and the house and yard reflect it. The garden is all pulled out, all the yard flowers and pots have been given away, lawn furniture is sold and inside, all the walls are bare and most cupboards are empty as well. We are living out of 2 storage bins as well as the bedroom furniture has been sold and is awaiting pick up by the new owners. I got in the last round of golf and broke 90 for the first and last time this year in Regina. The round of saying good by to friends is nearly over. Anticipation for the move mounts and yes, there is a small shadow of concern about the new place and how life will evolve there.
However time never stands still and change is the one constant item that there is in life so one can embrace it or struggle against it.
Anyway, enjoy the week and take care out there,