Report from the Legislature – February 26, 2014

Over the last few months we have been raising concerns about a transportation backlog that is hurting prices for producers, causing storage issues and cash flow problems.  The delay in moving our record crop is also hurting Saskatchewan’s reputation as a reliable supplier.

While grain transportation is a federal responsibility, it is in the best interests of our producers and our economy to ensure that it remains a top priority for everyone involved.  To that end, our government recently set up a delegation to meet with grain and rail companies in an effort to find short-term solutions to the current backlog and to address future concerns.

As a result of these meetings, we are asking the federal government to immediately oversee negotiations between the grain companies and railways that will establish specific parameters around getting grain from the farm gate to ships at port.  On our end, we will continue to monitor basis levels to ensure they are reduced as grain car movement gets better.

Railway companies have indicated that they are adding thousands more grain cars per week, something that will keep up until at least next December.  To ensure service levels, it is important that we have agreements, with penalties, for both grain companies and railways.

Our government is deeply troubled and appalled by the violent and brutal acts the world has witnessed in Ukraine.  Our condolences go out to families of those who have been killed and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been injured.  We stand in support of a free and democratic Ukraine, where freedom of expression and the rule of law are guaranteed.

Our government has also reached out to the federal government, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and other groups to determine the most effective support we can provide in the coming days and weeks.  We will act on that advice.  In a show of support for all Ukrainians at home and around the world, we have raised the Ukrainian flag at the Saskatchewan Legislature.

The Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games bring out the best in our country.  We watch as athletes achieve their dreams of representing their country on the international stage.  Our athletes, our flag and our anthem remind us of how proud we are to be Canadian.

Congratulations to all athletes, including 19 from Saskatchewan, for inspiring performances and special thanks to their coaches, family members and friends for supporting them.  While we are proud of each competitors’ accomplishments, we also recognize a select group from our province who appeared on the podium.  Mark McMorris, Hayley Wickenheiser, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz and Patrick Marleau each earned medals in their respective snowboarding and hockey events.  You made your home province and the entire country incredibly proud.

Many of Saskatchewan’s younger athletes also made their mark recently as Prince Albert played host to the Saskatchewan Winter Games.  These games build pride, inspire dreams and develop future Olympic champions.  They also serve as an excellent reminder of our growing province and the benefits gained through physical activity and friendly competition.  To all of the athletes, coaches, parents, volunteers and fans, thank you for contributing to a wonderful event.