Change of approach needed in north
Sask. Party leadership candidate says time for “one-size-fits-all” solutions is over
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.”