SUMA President Randy Goulden points to mental health, housing, recruiting health care workers as important issues for municipalities.
REGINA – Issues like mental health and addictions, health care, and housing and homelessness were at the top of the list for the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association at the Speech from the Throne on Wednesday.
“We’re looking forward to working with this government and talking about some of the things brought forward,” said SUMA President Randy Goulden to reporters at the legislature.
She said they were pleased to hear some of the initiatives around mental health and addictions in the Throne Speech.
“One of our cornerstone advocacy is around that for our municipalities because our members right across Saskatchewan whether they’re a small village or a large city, a town or in the north or east or west, they’re talking about the residents and the citizens that have mental health and addiction issues and how that affects their communities, so we very much want to hear about some of the beds that have been spoken about.”
Goulden was also encouraged to hear about the expanded responsibilities of paramedics, because “we are hearing from our communities the need in those communities for ambulance service and when it’s needed, it’s just not there.”
“So the initiatives we heard around that we are very pleased, but we need to know the details, we want to work together to make sure they’re implemented where they’re needed the most in our communities.”
One hot issue that SUMA members have been concerned about has been some of the closures at health care facilities, particularly in rural areas. Goulden said one of the concerns expressed from their members is the need to recruit more health care professionals.
“We have offered to help with that, because people when they are looking to retire, or they’re looking to move into our communities, they’re looking for those essential services. Healthcare is one of them. So we need to have more discussions around that.”
Goulden noted the issue has come up at their regional meetings.
“It’s so interesting because a few years ago you heard about infrastructure, policing, and now we’re hearing healthcare. You’re hearing mental health and addictions. Those are the kind of things we’re hearing, so that’s important to our communities and getting those services there and quite frankly, that’s a responsibility of provincial and federal governments. But whenever there’s issues, they happen in our municipalities, in our hometowns across the province.”
Goulden did commend the government for acknowledging homelessness in the Throne Speech and for its initiatives on secondary suites. But how will it address some of the homelessness is something she wants more details on.
“I guess we could say any additions is a good start. There’s a lot of work that has to be done. And at one time we heard of people that were unhoused and it related to cities. Now we’re hearing it’s happening in our smallest towns, our smallest villages. It’s happening north, south, east, west, so it’s an issue throughout the province. So that’s a start, so we want to see and hear and work together on how we implement those kinds of new spots.”
She adds that it’s “only through collaboration and working together that we can make a dent, and make it more, I guess, a good place to call home.”
Another issue that has come to fore again this week is the need for new schools to serve growing areas of the province.
“Isn’t that a good issue? Isn’t that a good issue, we’re growing and we have a young people in our problems again?” said Goulden.
She was pleased to hear about the province looking at building new schools, but “are they hitting the market where we need them? We want to talk about that, because I think as our communities grow, we need to accommodate the children that are going to be our future leaders and people who make a difference in this province.”