Saskatchewan Moon

FTComm - Muskoday - Monday, January 28, 2002

Heading home from Prince Albert Sunday afternoon with the sun setting behind me in the Southwest the moon was well into the Northeastern sky over the bleak winter countryside Southeast of Prince Albert.

The inordinately dry fall has left this land parched and though some snow has fallen the amount of snow in the fields and forests would be less than a quarter of what would be expected at this time of the year in this part of Saskatchewan. Perched on the edge of the boreal forest this is the parkland

and normally has abundant moisture each and every year.

But we all must adjust to changes, changes in the climate, changes in our lives but perhaps most unsettling changes in our way of life.

Just as this part of Saskatchewan never experienced drought, we as Saskatchewan people are now exposed to a drought of
of quite a different kind. Food banks, soup kitchens and massive charity drives that seem to collapse on one after another. In other times we the people of Saskatchewan looked after one another, we had social agencies that our taxes supported that looked after the poor and disadvantaged. Our medical care system was the best in North America as we started the whole idea of publicly funded medical services which would later be adopted all across Canada and is now being unadopted all across Canada. But in the fifties and sixties we looked after these needs ourselves and we did so successfully.

This morning I got a telephone call from some lady claiming to represent the Canadian Burn Society and wanting me to pay $369 so a burn victim could go to camp next summer. Great idea, but with a computer company that is two months behind in its phone bill I can't help. Several times a week some paid telemarketer calls me in the most sincere manner representing, police associations, drug and alcohol programmes and who knows what all, wanting sponsorship for a calendar or some fund raising scheme. At the same time the Telemiracle campaigns are in full swing begging for support for this or that agency.

As I look out across the flats of the Saskatchewan Valley at the Muskoday Church I wonder just what the heck happened to this place. Why all the begging and what is happening to the tax money we hand over every time we buy something. Something seems wrong, this isn't the way we do things in Saskatchewan and I don't like it.

Above, we see the huge plume from the Prince Albert Pulp mill and I wonder if they just receive tax incentive grants or does that huge American conglomerate, the largest wood processor in North America, does it "pay" any taxes?

Winter can be harsh even this short one has some pretty nasty days and people, those with the least ability to look after themselves, need to be cared for. I don't begrudge anyone unfortunate enough to be on social

services any of the money they receive to stay alive and raise their families. I am disappointed that we as a people are unable to do more for people in such circumstances and wonder why the welfare allowances are so low that food banks are needed.

As I gaze out across the stretch of land between Birch Hill and Weldon I wonder why the minimum wage is so low that folks with jobs that

pay only minimum wages can not live on those wages. It would be to our benefit for them to be earning enough so that they too could pay taxes and who benefits from the low wages they are receiving.

As the moon looks down on us chilled people of this chilled province, are we really doing the best we can for the people who live here. Perhaps even more important why do people leave here to find work somewhere else when we badly need more tax payers in this province. Why are we not developing the undeveloped, populating the unpopulated and encouraging this society to be something far more than it is.

The last provincial election we saw the politicians trying to out tax cut each other, now we hear there may be a shortfall in this budget. Agricultural income is at an all time low and not expected to improve, yet we as a people, seem only able to blame Ottawa for our plight and limply remain provincial impotent.

This was a great place, its our home and it can be a great place once more, we need a population of about three or more million people and we need them to happy, gainfully employed, paying taxes and enjoying the wonders of this land with us.

Timothy W. Shire