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 — April 2, 20082 avril 2008
 

As the Executive Director of an inter-church agency working in Saskatchewan to promote inter-church cooperation, I am writing to express my surprise and grave concern about the decision to cut $8 million of promised and committed provincial funding to the Station 20 West project. At a time of healthy budget surpluses, I cannot understand the provincial government’s reasoning and assume it must be based on lack of reliable information about the project.

This is no “throw-more-money-at-the-inner-city-quick-fix” solution, but rather a very well planned partnership between local community based organizations, social service providers, the Saskatoon Health Region, the University of Saskatchewan, the city of Saskatoon and local businesses. Its purpose is to address the very well documented discrepancies in social and health care provision between different areas of Saskatoon.

As last year’s Saskatoon health outcomes study showed, people in the core neighbourhoods have greatly increased likelihoods of serious illness and a much lower life expectancy. The main reason is poverty and the things that go with poverty, like no access to transport, lack of education and poor nutrition. The poor cannot easily travel for services, and a subsidized bus pass is of little use to a single parent hauling several young children around in the cold of winter.

Station 20 West is designed to address these issues, providing a free or low-cost dental clinic (through the U of S department of dentistry), a not-for-profit grocery store featuring good food at affordable prices (in an area where there hasn’t been a grocery store for 10 years), a library and other valuable facilities, along with much-needed affordable housing. The project will offer people living in the core neighbourhoods a chance to help themselves and raise themselves out of poverty. The long-term savings to the government in social service and health care costs, emergency room visits, welfare and corrections facility costs would far outstrip the promised and committed $8 million government investment.

Thousands of volunteer hours have been expended on this worthwhile project by community groups, businesses, church groups and the university. It has widespread community support and credibility. This project is far too important to be made into a political football.

My understanding of the Saskatchewan Party is that it is a grass-roots party which encourages community engagement and the promotion of self-sufficiency. Thus supporting Station 20 West fits with the Sask Party’s core values. It would put tools in the hands of the poor to help them to help themselves.

The Saskatchewan Party also, I think, believes in fairness and integrity. A decision to cut funding which has been promised and committed, and on the basis of which so many organizations and businesses have expended time and resources, appears to lack both fairness and integrity.

I urge the provincial government to reconsider.

Yours sincerely

Rev. Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard
Director, Prairie Centre for Ecumenism

Posted: April 2, 2008 • Permanent link: ecu.net/?p=447 In this article: affordable housing, community development, health care, Saskatoon Transmis : 2 avril 2008 • Lien permanente : ecu.net/?p=447 Dans cet article : affordable housing, community development, health care, Saskatoon


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