The provincial budget was announced yesterday and it’s left me stunned and upset. I can’t remember feeling gloomier about life in Saskatchewan since the droughts of the mid ’80s.
I mean, I literally used STC on Tuesday to send a birthday package to my niece in Prince Albert and now it’s gone.
Twenty years ago, my grandmother died so poor dad’s family got help with the funeral from social services. Now it seems that’s gone too.
The way I see it, everything we have in Saskatchewan we got by working together and working for each other. Have we forgotten that? Or is that a myth? I still remember in-school dental care and mobile libraries. When we were much poorer as a province it seems we all had so much more.
Nowadays our houses are bigger and our cars are shinier and our phones are magical, but public transport, public libraries and the like are things we aren’t supposed to want.
Is it selfish to want a service we all can use? Is it naive to want to contribute to services that help others, even if I don’t use it? Should we only care about the poor, the young, the sick, the elderly or the remote when times are good? I don’t think so.
But even I caught myself looking at the announcements through the lens of “how am I impacted.” Look, aside from the tuition hikes, which impact my kids severely, the provincial budget doesn’t hurt me personally. I’m a middle aged, healthy white man who owns his house and no longer works for a crown corporation. I’m the ‘core’ and I’m not supposed to care about those who aren’t like me, I guess.
But I do care. And it pains me when those who most need our help have to pay so the rest of us can maintain the status quo. That’s not how this province was built.
The problem is the lack of a long term, cooperative vision for all the people of Saskatchewan. It’s a classic dilemma: in boom times, we don’t need a vision because hey, things are great as is! And in bust times, we can’t afford something as frivolous as cooperation. We gotta take action and hey, poor people don’t really need funerals anymore do they? In good times sure, but even the poor need to get realistic here, right?
Let’s keep talking and working together. Talking about the kind of province we want to live in. And working for each other, serving each other and building lasting institutions for all of us, even when times are tough.