Change of ap­proach needed in north

Sask. Party lead­er­ship can­di­date says time for “one-size-fits-all” so­lu­tions is over

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - JA­SON KERR

Saskatchewan Party lead­er­ship can­di­date Tina Beaudry-Mel­lor says she wants a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to is­sues like sui­cide, poverty and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence that plague north­ern Saskatchewan.

The former Min­is­ter of So­cial Ser­vices made the com­ments af­ter speak­ing with com­mu­nity lead­ers dur­ing a re­cent trip to the north­ern vil­lage of Pine­house. On Thurs­day, she re­leased her plat­form for en­gag­ing north­ern Saskatchewan. The plat­form calls for strate­gic in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing train­ing in trades and vo­ca­tional skills, and ex­plor­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for per­sonal care aides help­ing com­mu­nity el­ders and for early learn­ing ed­u­ca­tors.

How­ever, Beaudry-Mel­lor says there are no one-size-fits-all so­lu­tions to cur­rent chal­lenges. In­stead, she wants to look at what in­di­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ties need in­stead of eval­u­at­ing the re­gion as a whole.

“I think we can prob­a­bly achieve some­thing if we work with one com­mu­nity at a time and see what works and what doesn’t work, and try to build some suc­cess that can be mod­eled and em­u­lated and then go from there,” she said.

Although she ac­knowl­edges the ap­proach will take more time, BeaudryMel­lor said it’s worth it to make sure the job is done right.

She said she’s dis­ap­pointed with high rates of crime sever­ity and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in the prov­ince, both of which are some of the high­est in Canada. In 2016, Sta­tis­tics Canada re­ported that Saskatchewan’s crime sever­ity rate of 148.84 was fourth high­est in the na­tion, be­hind only the Yukon, North­west Ter­ri­to­ries and Nu­navut. The se­vere crime in­dex, which counts only crimes based on the length of sen­tences handed down by the courts, was slightly lower at 146.84.

Beaudry-Mel­lor wants more part­ner­ships and more in­put from north­ern lead­ers, who can help iden­tify the needs of their own com­mu­ni­ties. She also wants more feed­back from fe­male lead­ers who aren’t be­ing in­cluded in the dis­cus­sion.

“I think that eco­nomic devel­op­ment and op­por­tu­nity is im­por­tant and I feel that young women and girls of­ten get left out of those con­sid­er­a­tions,” she said.

“That’s some­thing where, if there’s a place for me to ad­vo­cate, that’s one.”

While com­mu­ni­ca­tion is im­por­tant, Beaudry-Mel­lor ex­pressed hes­i­tancy about the gov­ern­ment lead­ing any ini­tia­tive. She said it’s im­por­tant for them to be at the ta­ble, but stressed the need for in­no­va­tion and part­ner­ships at the grass­roots level.

“I think that it’s prob­a­bly just bet­ter for us to work … in part­ner­ship and col­lab­o­ra­tion on a small scale on some of these things, maybe pi­lot a few things and see how they work,” she said. “I cer­tainly don’t think I have all the an­swers.”

With the fo­cus on in­di­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ties, the next ques­tion is which com­mu­nity to start in. Beaudry-Mel­lor said it’s im­por­tant to change the chan­nel and get more pos­i­tive sto­ries com­ing out of the north, and that means fo­cus­ing on the prob­lems that can be solved quickly.

“Some might crit­i­cize that ap­proach, but I think find­ing things that work in com­mu­ni­ties that are al­ready part­way there is prob­a­bly eas­ier,” she said. “We can see what things work and then we can ap­ply it to some com­mu­ni­ties that have a lot more dif­fi­culty and go from there.”

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