Cam Broten, the recently elected leader of the Saskatchewan New Democrats made his first public presentation Friday as guest speaker at a Yorkton Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.
Broten said he decided to become involved in politics initially for a simple reason, his children.
“I got into politics for one goal. I want a better future for them… not just them but all children,” he said.
Broten said while the economy appears vibrant at present, there are things which need to be addressed.
“There’s a feeling in many areas we need to do better and we can do better,” he said.
In terms of what needs to be done better, Broten said he will take a simple approach of listening to what people have to say. He said that is “a promise” he makes as leader.
“I want to be the type of leader that listens to good ideas no matter where they come from,” he said.
And once the party has a good feel for what the people want Broten said the NDP will apply “a common sense approach” to making the necessary changes.
Broten said when the Saskatchewan Party is doing something well they should be supported, but added as Opposition leader he has a role to play as well.
“My job is to stand up and speak out on things not on the right track,” he said.
Broten said in terms of the strong economy the key is to ensure “economic sustainability over the long haul.”
To ensure that long term viability Broten said the private sector players a crucial role, but added provincial Crowns also play a major part.
Broten said the government is already spending money advertising the budget, coming down today (Wednesday), will be an austere one. He said spending money on advertising the fact is not money spent wisely.
And if things are tight financially Broten questioned why the Saskatchewan Party would be moving to add the costs associated with adding three constituencies to the province. He noted the need for more MLS was “not something I heard on the doorsteps.”
While the budget will create immediate issues of debate, Broten said the NDP have three main areas they will want to push the current government to improve things.
The first area is that of Kindergarten to Grade 12 education. Broten said the system needs to be adjusted to better let teachers do what they are supposed to be doing, and that is teach.
As it stands the Saskatchewan Party has reduced teacher assistant positions by more than 350, said Broten, adding that impacts a classroom.
“Teachers have a more difficult time teaching. Students have a more difficult time learning,” he said.
The second priority area is that of long term care, offered Broten.
“We need better opportunities, and we need more opportunities for seniors,” he said.
Broten said better standards for care homes are needed, as well as ensuring follow-ups when improvements are called for.
And finally Broten said they want to see greater government accountability and transparency, including “admitting when mistakes have been made.”
As an example of a mistake made, Broten said cutting the film tax credit was a short-sighted decision, noting the credit “had a huge benefit” within the province.