June 16: Cutting Community School positions

To the editor:

Effective June 27, 2014 Saskatchewan Rivers School Division will cut Community School positions and will expand the community school programs without the valuable leadership and guidance of these workers. These 30 CUPE members have been allocated to other positions with fewer hours and less pay.

Community Schools offer a variety of programs including after school programs, nutritional programs, and ensure community and family engagement. These CUPE members have valuable experience, connections, and knowledge, and have been largely responsible for the success of these programs in our schools. These workers play a critical role in developing partnerships and provide the first contact for community members and parents. Why has the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Board decided to eliminate these positions which are key to the success of this program? What will happen in the fall when the most vulnerable members in our communities return without the support needed for these programs to continue? Will nutritional programs, after school programs, and family and community engagement suffer without these staff to provide the support needed?

With the provincial budget cuts Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division is facing, will there by more cuts in the future? These cuts to our schools and our members through jobs and wages will significantly impact the economic growth of our community. With increasing provincial cuts to education our members are concerned that this will only be the first in a long line of job loss and economic loss to our community.

The Executive of Local 4195
Supporting the members of Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division 119

The Executive of Local 4195

Aug. 1: What is wrong with this picture?

To the editor:

While Prince Albert's neighbours to the north are entering the third week of a detour on Highway 2 adding another 20 minutes to the trip and taking us over less than optimum travel surfaces, no one is saying anything to suggest that this is not acceptable. Our cars are paying the price with the number of holes in the roads, the costs are increasing as we add travel time, the rural municipality is having its local roads destroyed by the added traffic and now we are told that we may have several more weeks of this. Tempers are wearing thin for many drivers; roads are deteriorating and this whole detour is an accident waiting to happen.

The truckers who would never stand for such a detour on a major highway are not being affected because they are allowed to travel through the water. They are not going to speak for us.

Who is going to speak up and let our government know that this is unacceptable?

We have not fought their decision on building another bridge. We have reluctantly accepted the closure of the new hospital laundry and the loss of 300 jobs in our community and will see the loss of many more jobs and the security our fire tower patrols offered northern communities. All of these "economies" may be directing service to areas south of Saskatoon but we are seeing none of these benefits.

If our elected representatives do not speak for us, then we must speak directly to the people who are governing this province. It is time to write letters to Premier Brad Wall, Honourable Don McMorris, Minister of Highways and our local Members of the Legislative Assembly.

It is time to start creating our own picture for this part of the province.

Howard & Shirley Gange, Christopher Lake

July 11, Lethal means not needed

To the editor:

This morning some guy broke into my home at 3 a.m. and he had armed himself with a 12-inch kitchen knife. I was playing games until I heard movement, so I investigated, saw the guy and armed myself with a bat then I came downstairs and confronted the guy.

I told him not to do anything or I'd put him down. He made his move and I made mine which resulted in him being DISARMED without me having to shoot him.

My point here is, I am not trained to deal with knife-wielding people and why did both officers resort to lethal means when they're armed with batons and/or in most cases pepper spray? Why did our big police officers not use their batons/pepper spray and training?

I believe they were at an opportune time for their lethal actions as I was with this guy who broke into my home. It could have easily been lethal, but I practiced a lot of restraint not to kill this punk, which I could have as there was no witnesses and my stepdaughter was at home sleeping in her bed. Now my stepdaughter is scared to be here.

Anyways that's all I have to say on both subjects.


June 3, Fire tower observers keep us safe

To the editor:

The government is putting the safety of communities, families and property in northern Saskatchewan at risk by eliminating all of our fire tower observers.

The plan is to replace people, trained, experienced and dedicated professionals, with automated video cameras. The government claims that their primary concern is the safety of the fire tower workers, but the workers themselves say that there are guidelines and procedures they follow that keep them safe.

Government says that automation will be cost-effective. The initial estimate for getting the system up and running is $1.5 million. Then there will be the cost of ongoing maintenance. High tech computer systems that are supposed to work in extreme weather conditions will probably require a great deal of trouble-shooting. Will the repair and maintenance be done by helicopter? If so, how cost effective will that be?

But the most important concern is the need to keep the public and our forests safe. There are no successful automated fire tower systems operating in Canada. The government has pointed to Oregon as a place that is using video surveillance for fire detection. While Oregon has moved into video camera systems in parts of the state, fire tower lookout personnel continue to be a critical component of their fire prevention program, and many are hired every season.

There seems to be little evidence that replacing workers with video cameras is a safe and reliable approach. In the meantime, northern communities will lose jobs that help support families, businesses and communities.

Tim McKay, Dorintosh, SK

April 10, Elder James Learning's hunger strike

To the editor:

This letter is in response to the news article "Native elder on fifth day of hunger strike jailed for Muskrat Falls protest" that appeared on the April 10, 2013 edition of the Daily Herald. According to the news article James Learning, a 74-year-old elder, has been arrested for slowing traffic on a highway near the $7.7 billion Muskrat Falls Hydro Project.

Elder James Learning is a member of the NunaktuKavut Community Council representing the Inuit-Métis of southern Labrador. On the fifth day of a hunger strike, his family and friends fear for his life because he is also battling prostate and bone cancer. He has told his children that he is prepared to die trying to defend his Aboriginal rights.

Elder Learning is defending Aboriginal rights to be consulted and to be engaged in negotiations with the province regarding the hydro development project. The province is refusing to negotiate with the Muskrat Falls group and Inuit-Métis peoples of southern Labrador. The federal government has taken the position that the Muskrat Falls Group has no land claim in the area.

I believe the Newfoundland and Labrador and federal governments have greatly underestimated the implications of their decision to incarcerate an elder who is sick and dying for standing up and defending constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights. And although many Canadians do not fully understand the wisdom and spiritual significance of Aboriginal elders, it is the Canadian and provincial government’s responsibility to recognize the rights of all Canadians of freedom of speech and the right to protest.

This is a democratic country or so it is said. Jailing a sick elder who is only defending his Aboriginal rights appears to be less than democratic. Would this be happening to an old and dying non-Aboriginal man standing up for his constitutional rights to protect the lands and resources for his children and grandchildren?

Is this backlash against the recent Idle-no-more movement in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples across Canada are speaking out against unilateral decision making by federal and provincial governments? Someone needs to ask these questions? Where is democracy and the ideology it clings to - “for the people by the people”?

By jailing a sick elder who is only defending Aboriginal rights, all Canadians should take note... mis- management and exploitation of Aboriginal rights under the guise of economic development is a shadowy trickster. Canadians may think this is an “Indian problem” but look a little closer – could it be your backyard next? Your home town, your sleepy little village that may have the next surveyed resources the government’s plan to harvest in the name of prosperity?

The Aboriginal peoples of this country take their responsibilities very seriously to nurture the lands and resources and to protect these from exploitation. Do we not share the same vision for a healthy Canada for all the future generations?

All of Canada should take notice of what is really happening when governments put our elders in jail for standing up for what they believe in ... and they are willing to die for it!! Can you say you have that strength of conviction and courage to do what is right for your children and grandchildren?

John Cochrane First Nation

April.4, Thank you fans

To the editor:

The just completed 2012-13 Western Hockey League season was one of the most exciting in the history of your Prince Albert Raiders and the community owned organization is thankful for the incredible support that reached an all-time high this season!

On the ice, the team improved 33 points in the standings and moved from 22nd to 10th overall in the WHL. Leon Draisaitl is a nominee for the WHL Rookie of the Year, Mark McNeill represented Canada at the World Junior Championships, Josh Morrissey is nominated for the WHL Scholastic Player of the Year and is a highly touted prospect for this June’s NHL entry draft, and Luke Siemens re-wrote the Raider record book for goaltenders!

Off the ice, the Raiders averaged a franchise high 2,677 fans per game, 21 times exceeding the seating capacity of 2,580 at the Art Hauser Centre during the 36 game regular season. The Raiders had an increase of 14.5% in their attendance this season, 4th best in the WHL.

These results are thanks to the efforts of many people including our volunteers, business partners, sponsors, season ticket holders and all fans! In a year-end meeting with Mr. Ron Robison, Commissioner of the WHL, he was very pleased with the direction the organization is heading and was very complimentary.

The Raider organization now will use the 2012-13 season as a starting point as we begin planning 2013-14. We are looking to improve in all areas of our organization on and off the ice!

To conclude 2012-13 we are pleased to announce a Raider Side Walk Sale Thursday, April 11th from Noon – 7 PM in the Johnny Bower Lobby! Besides incredible savings on all remaining store merchandise, hockey equipment including hockey bags, gloves, pants, sticks, etc. will all be on sale! We need to make room for 2013-14 inventory, so come to the AHC Thursday, April 11 from Noon – 7 PM.

Once again, THANK YOU for your support….and very soon we will be launching our new season campaign which we guarantee will grab your attention! Looking forward to something new & exciting for all Raider fans!

Prince Albert Raiders Hockey Club

April 2, Premier discusses comments about First Nations and the uranium industry

To the editor:

At a recent Saskatchewan Party dinner in Prince Albert, I made a reference to the uranium industry and specifically, the positive First Nations and Metis employment record of one of Saskatchewan's very best corporate citizens, Cameco. Surprisingly, this comment has since caused some controversy.

Over the last number of years, our government has worked with the federal government to encourage access for Saskatchewan uranium into the Chinese and Indian civilian nuclear power markets – two of the most robust economies in the world. Prime Minister Harper has taken a direct interest in these matters and now, with agreements concluded in both countries, these markets could well mean billions of dollars worth of more Saskatchewan uranium mined here.

This fact, combined with more competitive royalties we announced in the new balanced budget bode well for the industry, for the City of Prince Albert, for northern Saskatchewan and for northerners, including First Nations and Metis. My point was that this industry, and specifically Cameco with its excellent track record of employing First Nations and Metis, is better than any government program in terms of reducing the Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal employment gap.

So yes, I did say Cameco's record of ensuring over 40 per cent of their mining work force is First Nation and Metis is better than any government program.

In fact, let me go one step farther. Over the years, governments of all stripes have used taxpayers’ money to pay for well-intentioned programs that pay out a lot of mileage expenses, produce studies and schedule meetings with no discernible decrease in the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aborginal employment. Our government is moving away from this failed approach.

If those who are misinterpreting my remarks as anything but a results-based comparison between government programs and real private sector jobs want us to return to the failed practices of the past, then they will not like the approach of our government. We are simply not to continue using tax dollars to prove that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Far better than "a program" is focused training like our partnership with Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) or competitive taxes for industries that go out of their way to train and employ First Nations and Metis people, like the uranium industry.

That was my point that evening. I stand by it. Incidentally, our government believes that a strong economy and good-paying employment opportunities are the most desirable outcomes for everyone in Saskatchewan, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. In fact, we are going to continue with our growth plan whose aim it is to replace government programs with high quality jobs every chance we get.

Premier of Saskatchewan Brad Wall

Feb. 28, MP Randy Hoback Encourages Businesses to Hire Local Veterans

To the editor:

Since my first election in 2008, I have had a chance to meet with veterans from across our community and I am simply in awe of their stories. In each of their stories exists one key fact - our veterans are some of the best trained, most determined and hardest working people of our society.

Our veterans have experience that is unmatched, having been trained with some of the most leading technologies available in our military. They have proven their dedication to completing the mission, and are recognized throughout the world as a force who lifts well beyond their weight.

That’s why I am calling on the businesses in our community to not only recognize our veterans’ service to our country but to hire a veteran the next time they need to grow their business. And I look forward to announcing businesses right here in the federal riding of Prince Albert.
I have made this a priority, and have welcomed several new initiatives aimed at finding career opportunities for our veterans. I have listed them below for your readers’ reference.

Help me match our veterans world-leading experience with employment opportunities right here in our riding. I encourage all companies to contact my office at randy.hoback@parl.gc.ca to find out how they can get involved.

Helmets to Hardhats Canada: This innovative partnership, which complements the department’s existing programs to help Veterans transition to civilian life, brings union, private- and public-sector resources together to match veterans with employment and training opportunities in the building, construction and trade industries.

Priority access to the public service: It is intended that the eligibility period for veterans to exercise their priority access to the federal public service will be extended. This will allow veterans more time to seek employment opportunities with the federal government following their military service. In addition, Veterans Affairs Canada has enhanced employment opportunities for veterans to start new careers in the epartment. The changes implemented are eliminating the barriers which can make it difficult for still-serving Canadian Armed Forces personnel to qualify for positions at Veterans Affairs Canada.

Jobs-Emplois: A specially designated VAC e-mail address has been created to let corporations and organizations alert the Department about new employment opportunities. Sent through jobs-emplois@vac-acc.gc.ca, the job openings are then shared with front-line staff working with transitioning Canadian Armed Forces personnel and veterans, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces and national contractors offering vocational services.

MP Randy Hoback, Prince Albert

Jan.29, We need more trainning spaces

To the editor:

I want to point out that there is another side to this story. My nephew has his first year school for electrical and is enrolled in the apprentice program.

He has only his first years schooling and has amassed almost enough apprenticeship hours to complete his third year of schooling but can't even get in in Prince Albert for his second year.

It really doesn't matter how many students are enrolled, if they can't get the schooling they will never be journeymen. No wonder there is a shortage.

I know from this incident that the shortage may well be that those enrolled in the trades apprenticeship programs can't get into school for those trades. What's with that? They don't necessarily need more students, they need a more streamlined trade school system, that is where the program is bottlenecked.


Patricia Norton-Stoutenburg

Jan. 15, Time to consider tolls to fund bridge?

To the editor:

About 7 or 8 months ago it was stated we should put in a toll booth to pay for bridge repairs. What do you taxpayers think now?

At the time there were lots of negative remarks about the suggestion and perhaps many of those that made negative remarks were not taxpayers of our city.

The provincial report that came out stated that the bridge will be serviceable for 25 or more years to come. That’s great, but what about the future and who is responsible for repairs and maintenance, the City of Prince Albert?

Remember there will be ongoing repairs throughout those next 25 or so years and will we have to foot that bill. I suggest to you the city taxpayer that we look at the long range use of this bridge and the costs to the city, “US". Every year our taxes go higher, is this one of the bottomless holes that we the city taxpayers have to put our hard earned money into for the sake of all those that use the bridge?

If the provincial government is not prepared to pay for a second bridge and pay for repairs than we the city need to consider the toll booth option.

The cost of a toll booth will pay for itself within a year. After that than the money made can go towards maintenance and repairs and a portion towards replacement of the bridge when the time comes.
Remember we have a voice and know how to use it.

Mayor Dionne and counsel let this suggestion be strongly considered.

Marcel Dagenais
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