If memory serves the money our provincial government works with is ours.
We, the people of this province, take a cut from revenues generated by our resources. We pay taxes. In effect the money the government spends is ours.
The government is rather simply put, the people we elect to invest our money effectively for the good of our province and its people.
So why then are the investments made on our behalf often veiled in such secrecy?
Take as an example the new Regional Health Centre being talked about for Yorkton.
Talk to the local Sunrise Health Region Board of Directors, or to medical professionals in the city and you quickly learn the need for a new facility is there. The current facility, while it still serves the city and region admirably, is showing its age.
With age comes a growing need for upgrades, repairs and maintenance which drives operational costs higher.
Now the Yorkton situation is not unique by any means. Moose Jaw is in need of a new facility, and the psychiatric centre in North Battleford is well past its ‘best before’ date as well.
And when it comes to infrastructure needs we understand health facilities are only one area in arrears in terms of investment.
Schools, highways, bridges, and airports are all on a long list of areas the government is being called upon to invest our dollars.
That said our elected representatives in Regina, now well into their second term, should have a good handle on how much of our money they have access to annually in terms of money to invest.
They should also have an understanding of what projects need to be done when.
Granted no list will be 100 per cent bang on. We understand at times issues arise which will shift a particular project higher up the list, or lower down.
But that said a list which looks a decade down the road and prioritizes the largest projects to be undertaken should be a reasonable expectation.
In the case of the local hospital project the government expects a local investment of 20 per cent of the multi-million dollar project. But it’s difficult to raise funds for a project which could start somewhere between the next budget, and a date somewhere years into the future.
Launching an effort today for a project a decade ahead makes little sense with momentum and interest hard to maintain through the years.
A working list of projects of course scares a government, as it would take away a political chip they use to help boost support.
It’s always good for some media coverage and local voter interest when the government finally declares its time to undertake a project we’ve all known was needed for years. They become heroes for a day spending our money on something we’ve been asking for for years because there was a need.
It’s time the politics of decisions about where infrastructure dollars are invested, and when, was taken away from government.
Invest where the project need is most keen, as laid out in a list which looks well into our future. Set a course, show us where you are going with our money, and stick to it.
It might mean a few less political chips to play, especially at election time, but we didn’t elect you to play politics with our dollars, we elected you to invest our money effectively.