Yorkton candidates answer YTW questions

Saskatchewan voters, including those in the provincial constituency of Yorkton head to the polls Monday, Oct. 26.
To help voters know the candidates, and their positions on some key issues, Yorkton This Week submitted five questions to each candidate via the email on the Saskatchewan Elections site, and asked them to submit their responses by Oct. 19; the questions and answers of those candidates who responded follow.

Q) Yorkton needs the support of the government from the Urban Connector Program, specifically in terms of York Road on the north end of the city. Would we see movement to get this vital piece of infrastructure moving forward if you are elected MLA?
Carter Antoine
– New Democrats
As the MLA for Yorkton, I will be a strong advocate for our city. Our party has committed to carrying out the Sask Builds capital plan, which includes a 1.3 billion unallocated portion.  I will advocate for funding so that we can make sure we keep York Road maintained and look to expand going forward. With the amount of traffic and industry depending on that road, it is crucial we receive the funding we need. I can guarantee you that an NDP government would only use Saskatchewan companies so that we can fully reap the economic rewards of our spending as well. We should create jobs right here in Saskatchewan where we need them, not send our tax dollars overseas.
Greg Ottenbreit
– Saskatchewan Party
The York Road Urban Connector has been a priority of mine for some time, and since becoming Minister of Highways and Infrastructure I have worked to advance the project. Under my leadership, the Urban Highway Connector Program has been changed so the province takes more responsibility of the projects.
The 2 phases of the York Road project are currently in the top 3 priorities province wide.
Additionally, I have been talking to City of Yorkton leadership about timing, their preference being upgrading their infrastructure underground while we get design work done, then proceed after.
In tandem with this is to continue to work with RM of Orkney on upgrading Grain Miller’s Road, not only as a York Road alternative for heavy traffic, but also to possibly develop an industrial economic corridor along it. Past work such as the partnership to pave the first segment up to Grain Miller’s was instrumental in expansion of their plant here and not elsewhere.

Q) Yorkton has been working towards a new hospital for some time. Would your government commit to the start of construction of a new regional health care facility in this term?

Greg Ottenbreit
– Saskatchewan Party
I’ve stated publicly many times, it’s not if we need the hospital replaced, but when.
As a Minister of Health for five years I was directly involved in the planning and building of many facilities including the Pattison Children’s Hospital, the provincial mental health facility in North Battleford, many integrated facilities (which include a hospital and long term care facility) in rural Saskatchewan which were left to fall apart under the NDP.
Additionally, I lead the extension of the STARS agreement to 2030 as well as the upgrade of their helicopter fleet.
In prioritizing of regional hospitals, I along with my Health Minister colleague and Ministry of Health officials recognized the need for PA and Weyburn to be replaced followed by Yorkton, based on condition and need of facilities. With PA and Weyburn facilities fully approved and moving ahead and Yorkton being allocated planning dollars, it is dependent on progress of those facilities as to when construction will begin, however, scoping and planning will begin and take a little time before location finalization and design will progress.
Carter Antoine
– New Democrats
As your MLA I will fight for the construction of a new hospital in our city using the unallocated funds in the Sask Builds capital plan. When it is built, I can guarantee it will be built using 100 percent Saskatchewan companies. We have seen this government give work to companies with head offices located all across the world and that is money spent that immediately leaves our economy. When we use Saskatchewan companies, we are using our tax dollars to create jobs and stimulate our economy. When the hospital is built, it will also be properly staffed. Recently, with all of these hospitals being closed due to COVID, we have not been seeing additional staff being provided to the hospitals that are still open. This is leaving our healthcare workers overstretched and stressed. The NDP has committed to hiring 100 more doctors and 150 new registered nurses on the front lines. We will also hire 300 licensed practical nurses and 500 continuing-care assistants so that we can help reduce wait times, and make sure people are getting the quality health care they need when they need it.

Q) COVID-19 is going to have health and economic impact beyond even the next year. What would your government do to support people while the pandemic goes on, and what do we need to do for the coming recovery period?
Carter Antoine
– New Democrats
Unfortunately, our economy was not in the best state to begin with even before COVID. 25 per cent of children were living in poverty and over half of people were only $200 away from insolvency. Despite promises of budget surpluses in 2016, the Sask Party has given us deficit after deficit. Austerity did not work for Saskatchewan people before, and it certainly will not work during a recession. We need to invest in people and have an economy that works for us. You will see a Sask-First approach to building roads, schools and hospitals, a $15/hour minimum wage, and creating jobs in renewables through our plan for clean energy that reduces emissions and lowers bills for families. We will also make sure to institute a job creators’ plan to support local small businesses as they adapt to the $15/hour minimum wage. We will remove the PST from construction labour to put more than $200 million back into the economy every year. We will invest in the services families depend on like education, healthcare, and housing not just because it is economically beneficial, but because it is the right thing to do.
Greg Ottenbreit
– Saskatchewan Party
Besides offering supports to individuals and businesses through the challenges of COVID, we will continue to monitor where to best focus resources. Additionally, prior to COVID as well as throughout the challenges we have increased resources in Health, Education and other sectors to address pressures, including in mental health as well as responses to concerns.
Throughout the recovery we have, and will continue to make investments in needed infrastructure, such has highways, schools, hospitals and projects like irrigation. This will help to ensure our citizens are meaningfully employed, especially through our community benefits tendering process. This will also improve needed infrastructure to serve the province for decades to come such as our passing lanes, coming improvements to the Yorkton Regional High School and our future hospital. Not to mention continued partnerships on projects with the City and neighbouring RMs.
Irrigation expansion will encourage growth in our Ag industry and aid in development and relocation of value added industries to Saskatchewan.
We predominantly have an export based economy, so continued work to expand our trading partner relationships is important. That work has continued with many countries and we are opening trade offices in Japan, Singapore and India.
A competitive business environment is important and Saskatchewan has been recognized as one of the best. Through low/competitive taxes and other policies we will strive to continue this recognition, along with working to maintain our AAA credit rating and lowest Debt to GDP ratio in Canada.
Plans are in place for continued and increased education and training opportunities for residents, and as always, continued engagement and consultation with the business community and representative organizations is recognized as important as well as responding to their needs as best as possible.

Q) What do you see as the major issues for this constituency over the next four years?
Greg Ottenbreit
– Saskatchewan Party
A continued focus on recovery of the economy and lifestyle post COVID is important, including maintaining our local businesses and job retention and creation.
Continued improvement in health services and infrastructure is a priority for citizens, and although much work has gone into this area, it is recognized that there is more to do.
I have mentioned previously, the focus on new facilities locally and some of my work provincially with facilities and services such as STARS. Over my years in Health, I have also been directly involved in recruiting initiatives as well as expanded training of physicians, nurses and other medical disciplines within the province. Much of that training, along with expanded residency positions, is now delivered in rural settings to encourage careers in hard to recruit locations.
Also important would be attention to municipal infrastructure which I have touched on in previous answers, which includes York Road and continued attention to, improvements to, and importance of the Yorkton Airport. Projects address need, but also increases and supports meaningful and significant employment.
Local provincial infrastructure is something citizens talk about as well. With the Highway #9 and #10 passing lanes complete, my focus on the completion of the approved passing lanes on Highway #16 is now priority.
Carter Antoine
– New Democrats
The majority of the people I have been talking to have told me that affordability is a main issue for them. With the prices of medications, housing and food rising, people are feeling pressured. Things were tough before COVID, and this government is not doing nearly enough to get the financial boot off of our necks. For starters, we will lower SGI rates by roughly $85 per vehicle and provide an immediate $100 rebate to all. We will invest $5 million to create a poverty reduction strategy and increase support for housing first. A $15/hr minimum wage will also go a long way in making life easier for low-income people.
We also will need to make sure our teachers are given the resources they need to get their students caught up after missing many crucial hours in the classroom.
We need safer schools and smaller class sizes, instead of the worst back-to-school plan in Canada. An NDP government would provide funding for 1,000 more teachers, 700 educational assistants and 400 caretakers so that our education workers are not overwhelmed.

Q) Why do you believe you are the best candidate to represent Yorkton over the next four years?
Carter Antoine
– New Democrats
I believe I am the best candidate to represent Yorkton because I am willing to put the needs of the people before the needs of large corporations and politics. I believe that until we do things like banning corporate and union donations, we will never be able to fully trust this government. If you are in a boat with a hole in it, do you start with bailing out water, or plugging the hole? Obviously, you start with plugging the hole. I was born and raised in Saskatchewan, and I do not plan on living anywhere else. We are all in the same boat.
Greg Ottenbreit
– Saskatchewan Party
Yorkton is my home. I’ve lived here for most of my life.
My wife, Leone and I have built our life and raised our family here. I continue to work to make my community better for my kids, grandkids and all others through my elected service as well as community work through Brayden Ottenbreit Close Cuts for Cancer, my volunteering as a search and rescue pilot in the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association and anywhere I see a need.
I believe I have had some successes and good results over the past 13 years as MLA, and look forward to the possible opportunity to continue to serve and see more initiatives through.
In any event, it has been an honour to play a small part in my community and province in my capacity as an MLA and Cabinet Minister and am thankful for the support this community has provided my family through our years of ups and downs, and over the last 13 years of elected office.

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