by Tina Beaudry-Mellor
Minister of Social Services & Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, MLA for the Good People of Regina University
This is the first of what I hope will be regular blog updates as your MLA for Regina University. My goal is to offer a bit of a different take from what’s covered in the news, and provide some insight to your government from a more personal level.
The Spring session recently wrapped up, and it was without doubt a difficult session due to the challenge facing the province of an over one billion dollar hole in government revenues from the worldwide drop in resource prices, notably oil & gas, uranium, and potash. This forced some tough decisions by our government, decisions that we understand may not be popular, but decisions that are necessary nonetheless to ensure our province can continue to make key investments to meet the challenges facing Saskatchewan, and emerge stronger than ever.
And, despite the decline in prices for resources, thanks to our diverse economy and Saskatchewan people, our province continues to create jobs, attract investment, and grow. This is encouraging, and should be celebrated.
I would like to highlight three specific measures our government passed this session, that maybe didn’t receive the media coverage they deserve, but will benefit Saskatchewan people now and into the future.
- We passed legislation to protect victims of domestic violence by allowing them to end rental leases early, if necessary, to remove themselves from unsafe situations. This legislation is a good step. We are also making significant investments in women’s shelters, including enhancements to the La Ronge shelter and the addition of transitional housing for women fleeing domestic violence there, as well as a new shelter in Melfort. Saskatchewan regrettably has the highest rate of domestic violence in Canada. We still have much work to do here. One initiative currently underway is the Saskatchewan Domestic Violence Death Review Panel. I will work with the new Status of Women Executive Director, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, as well as members across the aisle, in effort to address these issues.
- We got tougher with drinking and driving. My colleague and friend, Minister Joe Hargrave, has really done a great job in establishing stiffer penalties for drinking and driving across the province to help prevent tragic, and preventable deaths. As Minister of SGI, he provided leadership for the emotional ad campaign launched this spring that focused on the personal impact drinking and driving has on family and friends. Some of the new measures introduced and passed by our Government include 3-day vehicle seizures for experienced drivers with a blood alcohol level over .04 and zero tolerance for new drivers. As the province with the worst record on drinking and driving, I want to commend Minister Hargrave and our Government for getting tough on this issue.
- Our Government is also standing up for school choice in Saskatchewan following the Theodore decision which would force non-Catholic students out of Catholic schools and threaten the funding to other faith-based schools. This is a very personal issue for me. I am a graduate of Archbishop O’Neill High School and a graduate of Campion College, a Jesuit-based federated college on the University of Regina campus. I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and today am a member of the Regina Apostolic Church. The Regina Christian School is a vibrant academy in my constituency of Regina University, as is Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School and numerous separate elementary schools such as St. Matthew and St. Dominic. There are at least 18 churches in Regina University. As the Minister of Social Services, which deals with very vulnerable people, I am also concerned about the impacts of the Theodore decision on Mother Teresa Middle School, which affords important opportunities for children who may otherwise not get them. I am very proud of our Premier, Brad Wall, and his position that we would use the notwithstanding provision of the Charter on this issue if necessary. I believe that parents and students should have a choice in education.
One of the highlights for me this spring was being able to help raise more than $100,000 for Hope’s Home through their sold out Swinging with the Stars event. As you may know, Hope’s Home is a safe and welcoming place for children with high medical needs, the only organization of its kind in Canada. One of their locations is right here in Regina University next to LeBoldus Catholic high school. I have had the opportunity to visit and learn about how important specialized care and respite are for these families and to get to know the founder of Hope’s Home, Jacqueline Tischer. Hers is the story of Hope’s Home and I encourage you to learn more at www.hopeshome.org
My favourite part of being in politics is meeting amazing people who are doing amazing things. I had the honour of presenting Colin Bachynski – a resident of Regina University and a Campbell Collegiate alumni – to the Lieutenant Governor to receive the Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal. I sat down with students in Mr. Morley’s Social Studies class at LeBoldus high school and chatted about all things politics, and I helped support the Sunshine girls, a Junior Achievement entrepreneurship company also from LeBoldus. I navigated around the Legislative building in a wheelchair to get a feel for accessibility issues. I shared the news that our Campbell Tartans boys’ basketball team won the provincial title. I spoke in the legislature about the young leaders on the University of Regina’s Hill JDC West team who knocked it out of the park by winning 11 awards at the case competition, including school of the year and most charitable volunteer hours. This outstanding group of young people is also responsible for putting on the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign which raises money for Carmichael Outreach.
This summer I plan to be spending time in our community, meeting with community groups and talking with residents. We will be hosting another “Tour with Tina” at the Legislative Building on Wednesday, August 16 and I would love to see you there. There is no fee but space is limited so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
I will see you around. I’m in your neighbourhood!