Farewell Speech
(26 November 2015)

From Hansard - 26 November 2015

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The Speaker: — I recognize the member for Canora-Pelly.

Mr. Krawetz: — Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it’s an honour to rise in the Assembly today and deliver some remarks as the first and only member of Canora-Pelly. As everyone in the House knows, Canora-Pelly was created in 1995, and I’ve had the honour of serving that constituency since 1995, so that’s the reason for that comment about first and only.

Mr. Speaker, before I begin though I would like to, with the . . . I don’t know if I need your permission, Mr. Speaker, but I’m just going to bypass that and move directly to some introductions in the Assembly. Mr. Speaker, you’ve reprimanded me many times in this Assembly, so I will look forward to that next reprimand.

Mr. Speaker, seated in the gallery are, of course, a number of friends and family, a number of constituents. And I want to introduce Sylvester Hrynkiw. Little wave there please, Sylvester; sorry I had to wake you up. Terry Dennis. Terry Dennis is the former mayor of Canora-Pelly, of Canora and will be the next member representing Canora-Pelly. And of course Carol Sleeva. Carol Sleeva is my current constituency assistant and just does a yeoman’s work for me. But I also want to introduce a friend who was my first constituency assistant, and that is Jeff Hryhoriw. Jeff, thank you so much for coming down from Saskatoon.

Also seated in the gallery is a lady who has controlled my last seven and a half years when I was part of this government, and that’s Jane Johnson. Not my wife, no, sorry. Jane Johnson has been a great office manager for me when I served as the minister of Education and the minister of Finance, and I want to thank you, Jane. But also, the most important lady in my life is my spouse, Gail. Thank you so much for being here.

Over the past 20 years, 20-plus years, I’ve had the privilege of working in this magnificent building. Its grandeur has never failed to impress me. And, Mr. Speaker, I’m going to begin with a set of thank yous by saying thank you to the architects and the engineers of this great building. I’ve somehow had the reputation of having a very forceful voice. I want acknowledge the fact that the architects and the engineers who designed this building and the great acoustics have allowed me to develop that responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, this Chamber also reminds me of the important work that goes on within these walls. This Chamber which houses sincere and often spirited debate lies at the core of what makes this province and this country so great. Democracy is not always pretty, not always easy, not always perfect but always by far the best alternative to any other form of governing a people. And I am proud and honoured to have been a part of that democratic process.

My earliest days in this place were as an opposition MLA and I learned a great deal about how things work and what things needed to work better. And I must say that I much prefer sitting on this side of the House rather than on that side of the House, Mr. Speaker.

I do want to comment about one election, Mr. Speaker, the election of 2003. You know, after reflecting . . . We were of course expecting to win that election and become the government of the province of Saskatchewan in 2003. But as I look back, and I’m sure many others in this Assembly have looked back at that election, probably not winning that election is maybe the best thing that could have ever happened to the Saskatchewan Party because what it did, it allowed us as opposition to grow, to develop strong policy, to ensure that we understood what the people of Saskatchewan needed. And I think the rest is history, Mr. Speaker.

The formation of the Saskatchewan Party was one of the most challenging but rewarding times in my political career. During our time in office and under the leadership of our Premier, Saskatchewan’s population has grown significantly and our province has become a leader in Canada. I have greatly enjoyed serving not only the constituents of Canora-Pelly but also all the citizens of this great province. I will miss that interaction and I will miss being part of the team. My time in caucus, my time in cabinet, as a committee member, as a treasury board member — and I know my treasury board colleagues will know how great that group is that are in treasury board — it has resulted in so many friendships.

I want to take some time today to put a few things on the record though, Mr. Speaker. It’s my last opportunity to do so and I’ve found as I’ve travelled around the province, even just going back home to Canora-Pelly, not everyone watches the Assembly. Not everyone watches televisions.

An Hon. Member: — Say it isn’t so.

Mr. Krawetz: — I know. My colleague, the member from Kindersley — say it isn’t so. But unfortunately it is. And sometimes you do have to correct a record. You do have to ensure that the record is accurate.

And, Mr. Speaker, I’m going to begin by using a quote from a British journalist and politician. He was a politician for a number of years, decades and decades ago. His name is Charles P. Scott. And he said this, and I quote, “Comment is free but facts are sacred.” Mr. Speaker, I like that quote because I like to have things accurate. I like to have facts on the record.

So, Mr. Speaker, I do want to spend a little bit of time, and I hope I don’t take too much time, because, Mr. Speaker, one of the areas . . . And I’m not going to talk about all of the areas that we have, you know, accomplished so much, whether it’s in Health or whether it’s in Highways or whether it’s in other areas of government, but I do want to spend some time talking about education.

As everyone knows, education has been my life. I’ve spent 11 years as a teacher/principal. I’ve spent nine years as an elected school board member. And then when I was over there in opposition, I served as the Education critic for a while, and of course I served for two and a half years as the minister of Education. So I think I have a little bit of an understanding of education. But I have a lot of passion about education.

So I’m going to just put a couple of things on the record, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, when we came into office in 2007, there was no graduate retention program. There was no Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship. There was no Saskatchewan advantage grant for education savings. None of those things existed, Mr. Speaker.

And you know what also didn’t exist in post-secondary education? The rebuilt campus at Weyburn, Southeast Regional College; the rebuilt campus at Humboldt, the Carlton Trail Regional College. The affiliated college over in Muenster, St. Peter’s College, didn’t have its current standings. And most importantly in my area, I know the members from the east side of the province — the member for Yorkton, the member for Melville-Saltcoats — will recognize that the Parkland Regional College in Yorkton didn’t exist as it currently did. Mr. Speaker, over $60 million was spent just on those regional colleges. So some people ask, okay, so where did you spend some of your money as Finance minister? Well I can tell you that those colleges are there because of what our government did.

Now I’m going to turn to the Education portfolio, the pre-K to 12 [pre-kindergarten to grade 12]. Mr. Speaker, having been a teacher . . . And I know there are teachers on both sides of the Assembly. Many will understand that the earliest intervention is the best for recognizing what we can do for our children. And one of the situations that really intrigued me, Mr. Speaker, was the fact that the minister of Education was responsible for child care spaces. 2007 there were 8,850 child care spaces. We were last in the provinces and we were last, not because we wanted to be but because of government decision. And I’m not being critical of former member for Nutana, Pat Atkinson, but this is what Pat Atkinson said. She said:

Saskatchewan has the poorest record when it comes to child daycare, and, Mr. Speaker, I take some responsibility for that because I was part of a government that did not put a lot of new resources into child care.

So you can see, Mr. Speaker, that indeed 8,850 spots were not sufficient.

Today, Mr. Speaker, when we include the numbers that we will have at our nine joint-use spots where we’re putting in 90 child care spaces in each of those nine, we will have 15,173 spots.

And the other statistic, Mr. Speaker, is about pre-K. In 2007, we had 155 pre-K situations in schools, 155. Today we have 316, double the amount. Much more to do, of course, but we needed to ensure that those spaces were there.

Mr. Speaker, I’m going to put a long list on the record now, not for the purpose of in any way criticizing what has come from the NDP in the way of petitions because petitions are a way of the electorate to bring forward concerns. But for those people who don’t watch question period and don’t watch this Legislative Assembly, I want them to be able to turn to a list that tells them what has happened in the K to 12 system.

Mr. Speaker, when I began as minister of Education, a couple of people over in the Regina Public board made this comment, and I’m quoting verbatim from Don Hoium who was director of education. He says, “We haven’t had a new build in Regina for over a decade so we’re looking forward to what is quite an expansive capital development in Regina public schools.”

Mr. Speaker, when I hear people say that there hasn’t been much done in schools — we saw Prairie Spirit come forward demanding that, you know, they take materials out of a school because the ceilings were falling down, even though they received $1 million of emergency funding from the Minister of Education — it bothers me. It bothers me that someone isn’t looking at the whole picture.

So, Mr. Speaker, here’s some names: the Oxbow Prairie Heights School, the Elrose Composite School, the Leader Composite School, Maple Creek Composite High School, Langenburg School, St. Brieux School, Hafford Central School, Hudson Bay School, Porcupine Plains Composite — you can see the member over there in Carrot River Valley’s pretty pleased with that Hudson Bay School — Hillmond School, Gravelbourg School, Lumsden Elementary, Balcarres School, Birch Ridge School in Turnor Lake, Churchill Community High School in La Ronge, Stobart Community High School in Duck Lake, Emerald Ridge Elementary School in White City, Humboldt Elementary School, Humboldt Collegiate Institute.

École St. Thomas, Lloydminster; College Park Elementary, Lloydminster; St. Michael School, Weyburn; Weyburn Comprehensive School; All Saints Catholic, Swift Current; École Centennial, Swift Current; École St. Anne, Prince Albert; Carlton Comprehensive, Prince Albert; Sacred Heart School, Moose Jaw; Warman Middle Years; Warman Public; Warman Catholic Elementary; Martensville Catholic; Martensville Public Elementary; Sacred Heart Community School, Regina; École St. Andrew, Regina; École Connaught Community School, Regina; Seven Stones, Regina; Douglas Park, Regina; Arcola, Regina; Campbell Collegiate, Regina.

Scott Collegiate, Regina; Coopertown Public Elementary, Regina; Coopertown Catholic, Regina; Greens on Gardiner Public, Regina; Greens on Gardiner Catholic, Regina; Harbour Landing Public, Regina; Harbour Landing Catholic, Regina; Nutana Collegiate, Saskatoon; Willow Grove Elementary, Saskatoon; Holy Family School, Saskatoon; Georges Vanier Catholic, Saskatoon; Holy Cross Catholic, Saskatoon; St. Mary’s, Saskatoon; E.D. Feehan Catholic High School, Saskatoon; Rosewood Public, Saskatoon; Rosewood Catholic, Saskatoon; Hampton Village Public, Saskatoon; Hampton Village Catholic, Saskatoon; Evergreen Public, Saskatoon; Evergreen Catholic, Saskatoon; Stonebridge Public, Saskatoon; Stonebridge Catholic, Saskatoon. And the last, Mr. Speaker — the 65th either new school, rebuilt school, renovated school — is what occurred here in Regina at the École Monseigneur de Laval at the former Usher Collegiate, Mr. Speaker.

So you see, Mr. Speaker, the reason for putting that on the record is for the public of this great province to understand that there has been a lot done. This list, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education may correct my numbers, but I doubt it. He will recognize, he will recognize that this has meant over $1 billion worth of expenditure on schools.

As many in this Assembly know, education is that passion and I feel very strongly about it because it’s something that we needed to do. And I want to thank all of my colleagues, those who were there in ’07 who began in cabinet and said, you know, we need to do something. We need to do something about our education infrastructure. It’s falling down. Yes, there’s more work to do, and I know the critic over there will indicate that there’s more work to do. Of course there is, but this is $1 billion worth of spend on 65 schools.

And I’m not going to get into comparing the NDP record from the previous 10 because I think Don Hoium, as director of education and Regina Public’s director, made the very same comment. He said, we haven’t had anything for 10 years. We haven’t had a major school building in 10 years, when I made that announcement in 2008. So I think this speaks for itself.

Mr. Speaker, I want to extend . . . I want to take some time to express my sincere gratitude to a number of individuals and groups who have helped me out in so many ways. And this will be the tough part. Talking about education is fun and easy, but this will be the tough time.

I want to begin by talking about people of Canora-Pelly. I’m not going to spend a lot of time saying thank you because, as I’ve said in my bit of retirement, honoured banquet back in Canora, I don’t know who those 50 people were in 1995. Because you have to remember I had that . . . I was known as a landslide winner because I won with the smallest plurality in 1995. I wasn’t given a chance to win, but I did. And I won by 50 votes.

So Canora-Pelly, the area has changed a little bit. But I want to thank all of the people of Canora-Pelly for electing me, for re-electing me and, you know, ensuring that I understood, that I understood the needs of Canora-Pelly and the needs of this great province because that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to serve.

I’ve already mentioned my constituency assistants, my first one of course being Jeff Hryhoriw. Now my current one of course is Carol Sleeva, but I also want to thank Bob Blahay. I’ve only had three constituency assistants, full-time assistants, in my entire almost twenty and a half years, and I want to thank those three individuals for all their guidance.

Mr. Speaker, here we have a lot of legislative teams. My colleagues have referred to the family here, and the legislative team is strong in this building. And I’m not going to single out anybody other than Jane Johnson for that tremendous support here in the building. As I indicated, Jane has been here, she came over from Education, I think it was November of 2007. And she didn’t know what she was getting into when she realized that I was going to be her boss, but we’ve had a great working relationship for seven and a half years. So thank you very much.

To my Education colleagues — whether it be Audrey Roadhouse or all of the other people that worked in Education for my two and a half years, many of them of course are still there working with the current minister — thank you.

Finance. Finance was a joy to be involved in, I can say that, Mr. Premier, and I thank you for allowing me to serve for even that extra year beyond that announcement that I made over a year and a half ago. Tremendous work done by so many in not always easy times, not always easy times. But I want to thank all of the people in Finance: Karen and Clare and all of the other assistant leaders over there for their hard work.

The member from Melville-Saltcoats mentioned Reg Downs and Kathy Young. I too want to extend my appreciation to them and also to Joe Donlevy. And I’m not going to indicate many other names because the people in Exec Council, when you’re in cabinet or even when you’re not, they’re very, very helpful because you have to . . . If you don’t know, you should be asking. As an MLA, whether or not you are in cabinet, you should be asking. And these are the people that will ensure that we knew what was going on, that we knew as MLAs, that we knew as cabinet ministers, even members in opposition. I recall having to do a particular response to something called the wheat sheaf, and I can tell you I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, but that’s for another day to explain that one.

Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank the Premier for the leadership that he’s shown to all of the people in the province of Saskatchewan, but most especially here to us as MLAs. Thank you to my fellow MLAs for allowing me to be part of your team.

I want to extend my appreciation to family, and of course much changes over 21 years. I think probably my becoming a member of the Saskatchewan Party is maybe due to my late dad. I also . . . I want to extend my appreciation to all of my siblings: my brothers and sisters and their families. I’ve had the privilege of having nieces and nephews here when I was delivering the budget on behalf of the province of Saskatchewan, and that’s always, always appreciated.

My two children, to Lindsay in Calgary, soon to be married. Of course I think most of you already know that Lindsay and her fiancé were engaged back a few months ago in the summer, and we’re planning a family wedding. But also to BOWS, to B-O-W-S — Bryce, Olivia, Willow, and Scarlett — thank you to them.

When I was elected in 1995, both Lindsay and Bryce were, I think, 11 and 16 respectively. So when you have two children, you miss a lot of things. You miss a lot of things back at home. And I want to thank Gail for doing all of that hard work, still being the teacher and principal and finishing off 36 years of education, I think it is, and still ensuring that our kids did what they needed to do. Gosh, this is tough.

Politics at any level is a difficult job because everybody has different expectations and needs, and decisions and choices have to be made — tough choices, choices not everyone agrees with. But in all my dealings, I have endeavoured to be fair and prudent and mindful of how best to serve the people of this province.

Despite what some people might think, I know from my years here that MLAs on both sides of this House worked diligently and with great integrity for the greater good of this province and country. It is a job that requires a thick skin at times — one I don’t have right now — but it is also a job that brings tremendous satisfaction when you are able to improve people’s lives. As I leave, I have no regrets for the past 20 years. I have greatly enjoyed building a better province and a brighter future for all. God bless Saskatchewan.

Back to 2015 Fall Session

Legislative Report

25 November 2015

Ernst & Young Report Confirms Regina Bypass P3 Saves $380 Million

The Saskatchewan Government released the value for money report for the publicly-owned Regina Bypass project, which was prepared by Ernst & Young. The independent procurement and financial experts confirm the P3 model will save taxpayers $380 million, a little more than 16 per cent, compared to a traditional model. These savings include P3-related costs, such as private financing.

A total investment of $1.88 billion – in today’s dollars – is being made in the highway including the cost of design, construction, finance, and more than 30 years of operations and maintenance to ensure the roadway remains in like-new condition. Ernst & Young has confirmed that the same project would have cost $2.2 billion if it was delivered through a traditional build approach.

The Ernst & Young report confirms what our government has said many times – that a P3 was the right decision for this important project. In addition to the savings identified by Ernst & Young, a P3 is the fastest way to build the Bypass and will ensure it is done on-time and on-budget.

Province Establishes Refugee Settlement Centre

The Saskatchewan government will establish a Refugee Settlement Centre to co-ordinate the arrival of Syrian refugees into the province. It is important to ensure that refugees who come to Saskatchewan make a successful transition to life in Canada.

This Refugee Settlement Centre will bring together the appropriate government ministries to work with municipalities, settlement groups and other community-based organizations to ensure the best possible outcomes for these new Saskatchewan residents.

A Refugee Settlement Committee of cabinet has been created and will be chaired by Immigration Minister Jeremy Harrison. Other members include Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter, Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer, Education Minister Don Morgan, Health Minister Dustin Duncan and Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell.

More U of S Medical Grads Calling Saskatchewan Home

It is encouraging to see that thirty new University of Saskatchewan (U of S) family medicine graduates are choosing to stay and practise in Saskatchewan. This adds to a growing physician workforce, delivering health care services to people of the province.

Overall, the retention rate of family medicine grads trained at the U of S has jumped by 17 per cent over the past two years – from 58 per cent to 75 per cent. These new physicians join a provincial physician workforce that has grown by more than 500 since 2007.

Some of Saskatchewan’s physician recruitment and retention initiatives include:

  • A competitive compensation package for physicians – one of the best in Canada;
  • Training more family medicine residents in sites outside Regina and Saskatoon;
  • The number of post-graduate physician training seats at the College of Medicine has doubled to 120 – and the number of undergraduate medical education seats has expanded from 60 to 100;
  • The Rural Family Physician Incentive Program provides recent graduates with up to $120,000 over five years if they set up practice in a community with fewer than 10,000 people;
  • A rural physician locum pool, to provide additional physician coverage and assistance to rural family physicians;
  • Reward rural physicians who adopt a full scope of practice by providing a 10.5 per cent premium on their earnings.

Thousands Benefit from Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship

More than 16,000 students have received the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship (SAS) this year, totalling nearly $8 million from the Government of Saskatchewan.

By providing all Grade 12 grads $500 per year, to a lifetime maximum of $2,000, the SAS reduces tuition for students entering post-secondary programs in Saskatchewan.

Since 2008, the Government of Saskatchewan has invested $6.5 billion in post-secondary institutions and students. This includes the Graduate Retention Program which provides up to $20,000 in tuition rebates for graduates who live in Saskatchewan.

If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Ken.

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