Candidates in Saskatoon Meewasin are on the campaign trail getting feedback from voters ahead of next week’s provincial byelection.
The riding has a history of close election results, and all five candidates are knocking on doors working to capture votes.
Liberal candidate Darrin Lamoureux says he’d like to see the province’s film tax credit restored, especially with the lower Canadian dollar. He's concerned about funding for education and says it could be improved by reducing the number of MLAs.
“Let’s start with how many MLAs are elected. Do we really need 61 MLAs? There are 14 MLAs and 10 city councillors for the city of Saskatoon,” he said.
Ryan Meili with the NDP says cuts in education and health care are a concern. He would look at finding revenue to hire workers and teachers.
“Putting everything on the table, which means looking at how long do you run a deficit? Where does the revenue come from? Where is the spending happening?” Meili said. “Having a proper open discussion about all our options.”
Saskatchewan Party candidate Brent Penner says the provincial government has reduced wait times and made investments in infrastructure. Low taxes and a good business environment are key, he says.
“We’re already seeing signs of that in our province with respect to investment in the south east from companies outside our province,” Penner said. “They’re coming here rather than investing in their own province because of the investment climate that we have in Saskatchewan.”
David Prokopchuk, running for the Progressive Conservative Party, says voters are upset about the looming $1.2-billion deficit. He believes PST revenue is one way to reduce the number, but says income taxes should not go up.
“We need to look at broadening the PST, broadening the value-added taxes,” he said. “Take a look at increases on that side. That’s where we need to do it, not on the income tax side.”
The Green Party’s candidate, Shawn Setyo, says diversifying the economy is the best way to tackle the deficit.
“Diversifying the economy into sectors like the tech sector, like the manufacturing of renewable energies. Looking into these and seeing if there is a viable option to build these industries in Saskatchewan,” he said.
Saskatoon Meewasin runs along the South Saskatchewan River and includes mostly residential neighbourhoods, with a mix of small businesses and industrial operations.
Nearly 7,000 ballots were cast in the constituency during last year’s general election. The winner, Saskatchewan Party member Roger Parent, earned a little more than 50 per cent of the vote.
The riding’s legislative seat was left vacant after Parent died in November, two weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer.
The byelection is set for March 2, with advanced voting beginning Friday.