Saskatchewan Party leadership hopeful Scott Moe has promised full provincial funding for a new hospital in Prince Albert, but only after a balanced provincial budget.
Speaking at a Rotary Club luncheon this afternoon, the Rosthern-Shellbrook MLA said his top priorities as premier would be balancing the budget, increasing exports to create jobs and drive growth, and investing in Saskatchewan’s communities. Moe addressed Prince Albert’s needs for both a new bridge and hospital, saying the Diefenbaker Bridge should be maintained for now to ensure it remains sustainable long into the future. When it comes to a hospital, Moe said he would ensure the new facility is funded entirely by the province rather than the traditional 80/20 split between provincial and local funds.
“Understanding the wide array of communities across the northern portion of the province that that facility services, we would fund the capital infrastructure at 100 per cent provincial funding,” Moe said.
Moe’s assurance did come with a catch – he said his top priority will be balancing the provincial budget, and the hospital will only be on the table “after we’re able to get our fiscal house in order at the provincial level.”
“It’s important for us to ensure that we get back to fiscal sustainability here in the province so we are able to make this type of investments,” Moe said.
Although Moe was in favour of maintaining the Diefenbaker Bridge as it is, he said replacement is not impossible. The province will continue to work with the city and other stakeholders, he said, and plans for a new bridge or bypass could result from those discussions.
Unlike Premier Brad Wall, Moe said he would make no attempts to sell the province’s Crown corporations. Everything he has heard from Saskatchewan citizens both before and during the leadership campaign, he said, indicates the people want to retain their control over the Crowns.
“They’re not ready to sell the Crown corporations, and so we’d be committed to retaining the people’s ownership in those corporations,” Moe said. “They’re not for sale, and I support the repeal of Bill 40.”
The leadership candidate said he plans to win the support of First Nations and other northern communities by making investments into healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Moe pointed to provincial initiatives on adult education and trades training, and said he plans to do as much listening as possible during the leadership race to ensure the North is not left behind.
No matter the outcome of the leadership race, Moe said the ultimate goal will always be winning another majority government for the party in 2020. The leadership race is just the first rung of the ladder, he said, with the general election looming large at the top.
“That’s the Stanley Cup final,” he said. “Right now we’re in the first round of the playoffs.”
The Saskatchewan Party will choose their new leader Jan. 27.
On Twitter: @TMacPhersonNews
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