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Opposition MLA gives budget failing grade PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dean Bear   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 17:00

MLA Buckley Belanger. Photo courtesy Facebook.

Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger has given the provincial government a failing grade when it comes to Wednesday’s budget.

When asked to grade the budget from a teacher’s standpoint, Belanger said “I would simply give it an F minus, simple as that.”

The provincial government tabled a budget with a $685 million deficit, which includes almost $900 million in new taxes comprised mainly of an increase in the provincial sales tax from five to six percent.

Belanger says it was tough to find anything good in budget to address.

“The people of Northern Saskatchewan will be adversely affected with the cut to the Saskatchewan Transportation Company and even with all of these measures, with increased taxation and cuts to health and education, they are still in deficit,” he added.

Belanger says that the current Sask. Party government inherited a booming economy with record resource revenue, but still it is the taxpayers of Saskatchewan that have to bear the brunt of massive debt and deficits.

He says residents should be angry for the government’s economic mismanagement and says the death of STC should be a warning of what might happen next to any of the Crown Corporations.

“Next on the hit list for the Sask Party is going to be SaskTel,” he said.



Prince Albert police ID 1st homicide victim of 2017 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 16:10

Homicide victim Damian Ballantyne. Photo courtesy Facebook.

Prince Albert police are revealing the identity of a man killed in the city in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Damian Ballantyne, 34, was the victim of the city’s first murder of 2017.

He was already non-responsive when Parkland Ambulance arrived at a home in the midtown area around 1:22 a.m., and was pronounced deceased soon after.

An autopsy was performed this week but details of the cause of death have not been made public.

Condolences have been pouring out on social media to Ballantyne’s relatives, and he’s being remembered as a “gentle giant.”

Police previously revealed that two suspects were taken into custody on Wednesday, and now confirm the two individuals were known to Ballantyne.

No charges have yet been laid.

Prince Albert Police Service vehicles have remained at the crime scene - a home on the 300 block of Ninth Street East - all week after taping off the crime scene on Wednesday.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 March 2017 22:21
2017 federal budget holds few surprises for Perry Bellegarde PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 13:47

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde pictured on March 16. Photo courtesy @perrybellegarde, Twitter.

The Assembly of First Nations has an overall positive impression of the federal budget that was unveiled on Wednesday, and its leader is not surprised by some new announcements made for First Nations people.

The AFN says the Liberal government is moving closer to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

To that end, the budget allocates an extra $3.4 billion over five years on top of the previously allocated $8.4 billion.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde commented on the boost at a media conference in Ottawa Thursday morning.

"It might seem like a lot of money, and it is, because there really hasn't been that much dollars allocated to Indigenous peoples, basically ever. So it is, in that sense, unprecedented," he said.

"We have to be more diligent, keep putting the pressure on that that commitment is upheld, and again, be more effective, be more efficient, but make sure those resources get out so they have meaningful impact on the ground and that's what our job is as AFN."

Bellegarde said this year's budget addresses items he felt were overlooked in Finance Minister Bill Morneau's first Liberal budget in 2016.

"We lobbied hard for post-secondary because last year there was nothing in post-secondary and we said 'look, there's no better way to get First Nations people out of poverty than a good education.' And we've got thousands of students on the waitlist wanting to attend universities and technical vocational schools."

He says $90 million over two years on that front will make a dent.

Meanwhile, Canada's foremost Indigenous child welfare advocate has a scathing response to the budget.

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society's Cindy Blackstock said there is nothing new for the implementation of a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling on First Nations children in care, and nothing new for First Nations children and their families.

Conversely, Bellegarde said he sees work being done.

"It's an ongoing thing. And I think everybody agrees that more should be done for our children," he said.

"You've got Canadian Human Rights Tribunal binding decisions that are there directing cabinet and government to end discrimination, you’ve got a unanimous vote in the House of Commons which speaks to investments that should be immediately put in place to end discrimination."

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 March 2017 14:18
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