United we stand

Carrot River - March 22, 2000 - By: Kevin McIntyre
Rural Service Centre




Dept. Highways

The town of Carrot River has been in the news lately, mainly symbolic gestures but the residents are not going to quietly ride into the sunset. Since coming to power the Romanow administration has removed from this town: the rural service centre, Sasktel facilities, Saskpower facilities, D.N.R. offices, Department of Highways yards and now the hospital. In the same time frame one of two grocery stores closed, one of three garages and one of two doctors offices have closed. Those are a lot of good jobs for one town to lose. Two years ago the government released a report on the number of declining viable communities in the province: this is a prime example of why. With the hospital gone, we will not be able to recruit a doctor to reopen the one clinic, and not likely be able to hang onto the remaining one. From the town of Carrot River to the town of Nipawin is 26 miles, from rural Carrot River that distance can easily extend to 50 or more. When the Arborfield hospital was closed they were assured that they would always have the facilities in Carrot River, extend that distance to 75. Now we are told ... we will always have Nipawin... . Talk to the health care workers in Nipawin, they have lost even more beds, not reopened any, in response to a larger regional coverage. Not only that, they foresee themselves closing in three years. Tisdale won't remain open, Melfort is only a short drive west and the center of the health care district, so they will be the sole provider. The distances to medical facilities will now be 100 miles, possible more. We aren't unique, this is playing out in every health care district. People will soon be dying of appendicitis again. However we will be told we have efficient ambulance services, yes we do, a user pay system, just like American health care. Urban Saskatchewan is no better, Regina and Prince Albert have lost hospitals, Saskatoon hasn't yet but whole sections of theirs have been closed off. More jobs lost.
government wants to reduce the rural municipalities Monday on the news it was again reported the government wants to reduce the rural municipalities to 11 to 17 regions. Gee, the same numbers as health care districts. If anyone has had trouble getting a portion of road fixed now, think what it'll be like when you try contacting someone at the 'County Seat' over 100 miles away. At the time of the upcoming amalgamation, any surplus revenues will be transferred to Regina and absorbed then tax notices will be issued from Regina, funds sent to Regina where they to will disappear. Does anyone believe that 100% of funds received will be distributed? No, they, like health care dollars, will come back as a fraction of those collected. In the guise of reducing government, more will be created. Local representation and accountability will be lost. It will become another faceless institution, and less efficient.
Public input was window dressing, a total sham. This administration has had an agenda from day one but is dolling it out in small amounts. Before the first meeting was held the plan was in place and outcome decided. Public input was window dressing, a total sham. At the last election Premier Romanow said rural Saskatchewan I hear you loud and clear. No he hasn't, what he is giving the province isn't democracy. They created health care districts, and under funded them. By creating more layers of administration they are off loading the criticism to them. They hoped to concentrate the anger to and within the individual communities. They say Take it up with the local board, they make the decisions. They are trying to shield themselves from the mess they are creating. What they have created is an atmosphere within the province that has never been so divided and polarized in the history of the province. Just like under fed rats in a cage, we're turning on each other instead of focusing on the source of discontent. Or, are the collective governments maneuvering us into position that we will be looking to purchase health insurance? At this point, it wouldn't surprise me.
The provincial flag is gone As far as I know, only one business in town has signed onto the tax revolt. That is a flower shop / Sears outlet. Taxes can't go uncollected, she knows that and said it on tv. On the Sears side of her business,billings and payments are done directly with Sears. The flower shop likely isn't a large part of her income and what comes out of her pocket won't be much. The provincial flag is gone from the municipal offices, last week the town office has it at half mast. This week it's gone. Can the province force them to restore the flag? I have no idea. It is a symbolic gesture, one that has yet received no reply. What is going on here, removal of government representation in rural Saskatchewan, lose of stable jobs, isn't unique. It's province wide. If more flags come down, if we stand and turn our backs, how long can Regina ignore what is going on?
  Divided, we fall.