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Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Once Canada’s Autism Wasteland Has Saskatchewan Made Meaningful Progress?

Apparently Saskatchewan is still have difficulty providing necessary levels of early autism intervention.  I once described it in a September 2, 2007 commentary as Canada’s Autism Wasteland:  Canada’s Autism Wasteland To Take First Step Forward.   At the time of my commentary Saskatchewan was one of the few provinces with no intervention program for autistic children.   A Global News article by Amber Rockliffe, Saskatchewan Families Moving Due to Lack of Autism Funding indicates that not enough hours of intervention are being delivered to Saskatchewan’s autistic children and some families are moving out of province to find the help (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: SaskPower Carbon Capture and Storage Going Online Today, On Schedule

@tingeyd -Construction of the @SaskPowerCCS facility is complete. Currently commissioning and preparing for commercial operation Spring 2014—   (@SaskPowerCCS) January 27, 2014

“The government boasted at last week’s Boundary Dam symposium that the project will be up and running this fall and completed by next April, on time and on budget.”

Hey, today’s April Fool’s Day. Of course it’s not going online today, as planned last May September by politicians managing SaskPower.

.@saskpowerccs capture unit ready to go online this summer – essential technology for the future #ppet @ACforesight http://t.co/1b1rEk4yqK— Mihaela Carstei (@MCarstei) (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Wall Divesting From Russian Liquor #skpoli

We've contacted the fed gov't & Ukrn-Cdn groups to determine best way to support freedom & democracy in Ukraine. We will act on that advice.— Brad Wall (@PremierBradWall) February 24, 2014

Premier Brad Wall says gov't is looking at options to pull Russian liquor products from provincial stores in response to crisis in Ukraine— Marco Vigliotti (@Metro_Marco) March 20, 2014

Premier Wall, having gorged himself with other Canadian politicians on weeks of Russian Olympics propaganda, now considers Russian intoxicants to be the enemy.

What a game! Saskatchewan's @wick_22 & the Canadian Women's Hockey team are golden!!!

Congrats!! #WeAreWinter (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: 2014 Stapleford Lecture on Senate Reform at #UofR

Part 1

I really have to disagree with Dr. Barnhart, who had the power to sign, or refuse to sign laws of Saskatchewan into effect while Lieutenant Governor, that he is a powerful person. Now his influence may be lessened, even to the point where Global TV won’t keep a promise to him, but he did get invited to to a prestigious lecture for the UofR too, didn’t he?

There’s a time to be modest, and a time to be real.

Part 2

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Beyond The Book Lecture: John Gormley – #UofR 2014

I’ve been to a lot of University of Regina lectures over the years. None by a right wing radio commentator, until tonight, and it didn’t turn out how I expected. I know there are people who reeeally don’t like John Gormley and his radio show. I used to listen to it frequently while I worked in a job that had me in a car most of the day, traveling the province’s east side. I’ve not really tuned in too much the past 6 years, while I work meters from where his talk was given Tuesday night. It’s not easy to (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: The Blustery Winds of Stupidity Hit Weyburn Hard #skpoli

At least 2 Weyburn City Councillors were not duped by anti-Wind propaganda that afflicts many municipalities. There’s probably no bylaw against this family running a noisy, polluting diesel generator in their backyard, contributing to poor health of their neighbours. I’d have to reason that the neighbour(s) who complained about this windmill isn’t very bright.

The time frame given to Dustin and Vanessa Storle, owners of the turbine, was to have it removed by July 30. After this, there will be no more residential wind power in the windy city of Weyburn.

I hope they find a resident of a less (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: PotashCorp Projects Low Royalties

Today’s fourth-quarter report indicates that PotashCorp paid “provincial mining and other taxes” of $194 million on potash sales of $3 billion in 2013. In other words, Saskatchewan’s resource surcharge and potash production tax amounted to just 6.5% of the value of potash sold.

Adding the basic Crown royalty (which PotashCorp includes in “cost of goods sold”) and subtracting New Brunswick potash suggests that Saskatchewan is collecting no more than a dime per dollar of potash extracted from the province.

PotashCorp’s guidance for 2014 projects “provincial mining and other taxes” not as a percentage of potash sales, but as a (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Dutch Disease, Prices and Wages in Saskatchewan

Jim Stanford recently pointed out that many of the conservative economists who had defended the overvalued loonie have quickly shifted to applauding its depreciation.

The Government of Saskatchewan may be making a similar conversion on the road to Damascus. When federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair expressed concern about Dutch disease, premier Brad Wall denied that the high exchange rate was hurting Canadian-based exporters.

But on Friday, the Regina Leader-Post reported:

[Provincial] deputy labour minister Mike Carr said that a lower exchange rate, through its ability to stimulate sales of Canadian-produced goods, including, significantly, agricultural and mineral products of (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Saskatoon Shiners #exploresk

Saskatoon is a beautiful city, so don’t let these photos fool you. Every city has a few shiners here and there. “There”, in this case, is downtown. This is the Holiday Inn Supermax Prison. Don’t worry, it only looks like a prison from the outside. You can leave, unlike the more picturesque Hotel California.

Here’s one of the more beautiful parkades with a cell phone tower behind it.

It’s January, and the snow has retreated into puddles due to the unseasonal temperatures, but the gang activity hasn’t retreated.

The people of Saskatoon are friendly, and will accommodate you whether you’re (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Future Proof: Ice Storms

Last year Shane vlogged about ice storms. Let’s not wait until a big storm hits Saskatchewan before we future proof our homes being built today.

You can check out Shane’s website, and buy his book.

If I had $20,000 to spend on a “depreciating liability” (a car), or $20,000 to spend on renewable energy for my home, which would be more useful during an ice storm or other time of emergency? Arguably a car could be useful to remove myself from the place of emergency, but if there’s no enough gas, or electricity to pump the gas, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how well-planned public infrastructure and a strong community spirit have helped Saskatchewan through weather that’s caused far more problems elsewhere – and how we’re in danger of losing that advantage.

For further reading…- The obvious point of comparison is the spate of problems faced by Toronto – including widespread power outages, and flight delays and cancellations. And the provincial government is now handing out gift cards to make up for what people lost due to the power issues. – In contrast, Saskatchewan’s main cities have seen some short and scattered power issues, along with (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses the link between perpetually-increasing inequality and the loss of social trust: Unfortunately, however, trust is becoming yet another casualty of our country’s staggering inequality: As the gap between Americans widens, the bonds that hold society together weaken. So, too, as more and more people lose faith in a system that seems inexorably stacked against them, and the 1 percent ascend to ever more distant heights, this vital element of our institutions and our way of life is eroding.

The undervaluing of trust has its roots in our most popular economic traditions. (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Canada-Europe Deal Not About Trade

I have the following letter to the editor in today’s Prince Albert Daily Herald:

Canada-Europe Deal Not About Trade

In their letter of Dec. 3, Darryl Hickie and other Sask. Party MLAs back away from his previous claim that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU) would be a boon to the Prince Albert Pulp Mill. Indeed, as the federal government’s Initial Strategic Environmental Assessment of these trade negotiations noted, “Pulp and paper products currently enter the EU market duty free, so a CETA is not expected to increase Canadian exports (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: First Nations Get $0.3M for Solar Research #skpoli

The Conservative government generously gave First Nations in Saskatchewan enough grant money to build one impressively sized solar array that could power a half dozen homes.

Ontario is going with $5,000M.

SaskPower gave 10 times this much to the UofR to research how to put CO2 underground so more oil can be pumped out of the Weyburn area.

Lockheed manufactures illegal weapons, and is part of the F-35 dud stealth bomber boondoggle.

Solar is not “concentrated” in SK as explained in the article, we just have more sun hitting the ground throughout the year than most of Canada. There’s (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Weir vs. Wall on Potash Profits, Dividends and Royalties

Earlier this week, PotashCorp laid off 440 workers in Saskatchewan. Here are the closing paragraphs from today’s front-page story reporting a letter from Premier Brad Wall asking the company to consider reducing its dividend payments to shareholders in order to maintain jobs in Saskatchewan:

Regina economist and former NDP leadership candidate Erin Weir said if Wall truly wanted to transfer money from PotashCorp shareholders to Saskatchewan people, he would close loopholes in the provincial royalty and tax system.

The sternly-worded letter is “no substitute” for policy changes, Weir said.

Wall told reporters Thursday that the end result of any tax (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: A Nuclear Error: Uranium Royalty Cuts

On Thursday’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange (at 24:45 in this CBC video), I noted that while the Government of Canada just signed a deal with Kazakhstan allowing Cameco to invest more in that country’s uranium industry, the Government of Saskatchewan recently slashed its uranium royalties to encourage Cameco to invest in the province rather than in Kazakhstan.

It’s a win-win for Cameco: the federal government helps it invest abroad and the provincial government makes concessions to compete for those same investment dollars. But it’s hard to see how Canadians benefit from increased nuclear capacity in central Asia and decreased (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Canadian Uranium Subsidies to Kazakhstan

Here’s an important story for Canadians, and Saskatchewanians in particular, which doesn’t have to do with the Riders or the Senate scandal.

The Green Party of Saskatchewan (GPS) wants to know why the Wall Government is still subsidizing Cameco. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recently reported that Cameco owes $850-million in back taxes. And just recently Canada and Kazakhstan signed an agreement to jointly invest $200-million to develop a uranium conversion facility capable of feeding 40 nuclear reactors in Kazakhstan.

If uranium is profitable, then Kazakhstan should be able to build a uranium conversion facility without Canadian tax dollars. Why (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Perils of Passivity

Almost a year ago, Paul Krugman wrote a blog post entitled “Inaction is the Greatest Risk.” He was addressing American monetary policy, but the same theme applies to Saskatchewan politics. Much as Krugman warned readers upfront that his post was “wonkish,” I’ll admit that the following is “hackish.”

For several months, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has been trying to reposition himself as a champion of Senate abolition, a progressive and popular policy that the CCF-NDP has consistently held since the Regina Manifesto. Yesterday, the provincial Legislative Assembly passed his motion supporting Senate abolition and his bill repealing the Senate (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your day.

- Bloomberg reminds us of the nest egg Norway has built up by taking ownership of its own natural resources (and the consensus among conservative parties and business groups in favour of social spending is also worth highlighting). And Canadians for Tax Fairness point out the growing global movement calling for tax justice as part of a more fair distribution of wealth.

- But sadly, Jimmy Gutman notes that Saskatchewan is following a rather different path – with piracy taking the place of stewardship.

- And our local regressives certainly have their peers elsewhere (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: This is Not the Saskatchewan NDP’s Official Position

I have the following opinion piece in the latest (September 2013) edition of The Commonwealth, accompanied by this disclaimer: “The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the official position of the Saskatchewan NDP.”

Comparing the NDP and Sask. Party Employment Records

Right-wing politicians often win elections by presenting themselves as good economic managers. British Columbia’s provincial election was the latest example of how the right’s rhetorical focus on the economy can derail the NDP.

It also illustrated how simply being cautious and saying little about economic issues is an ineffective defence. New Democrats must challenge (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Royalties should be the Keystone of Saskatchewan’s Petroleum Policy

The Saskatchewan Party has appropriated the province’s name, flag and football team. More recently, it asserted a new symbol of Saskatchewan patriotism: the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Earlier this year, provincial energy and resources minister Tim McMillan had the following letter in Regina’s Leader-Post:

Province Needs XL (January 28, 2013)

I write in regard to recent Leader-Post coverage of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As Saskatchewan’s minister responsible for energy and resources, I strongly support this project as it has considerable benefits for Saskatchewan’s oil industry and the people of this province.

Saskatchewan crude oil receives a price based on (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Sask. Party Spin Outstrips Population Growth

Sask. Party spin appears to be growing even faster than the province’s population. Today’s Saskatchewan government news release quotes Premier Wall as saying, “We have the strongest job growth and lowest unemployment in Canada.”

By what measure does Saskatchewan have the strongest job growth? Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey indicates that employment grew by 2.9 per cent in Saskatchewan and 3.6 per cent in Alberta over the past year (August 2012 to August 2013).

The Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours indicates that payroll employment (as opposed to self-employment) grew by 1.3 per cent in Saskatchewan and (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Regina’s P3 Columnists

As the referendum on whether to privatize Regina’s wastewater plant nears, the Regina Leader-Post is printing a column a day advocating the P3: John Gormley on Friday, Bruce Johnstone on Saturday, and Murray Mandryk today.

Johnstone and Mandryk repeat three of the City’s key claims. Gormley only gets to one of these claims because he mostly just attacks the messenger, implying that a P3 would be good because CUPE opposes it (another common City tactic).

Interest Rates

It does not make sense for governments, which can borrow at low interest rates, to pay private operators to finance public infrastructure at (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: What Does India Have In Common With Regina? Asbestos

One thing we share is an abundance of unsafe Quebec chrysotile AKA asbestos. Most of the world stopped using the miracle mineral once they realized what a global disaster its widespread use had been. Inhaled asbestos fibres cause lung cancer. There is some ongoing effort four decades after its use in new products was stopped in Canada, to remove it from buildings we live, work, and play in.

The effort to mitigate harm from asbestos has its limits, even in a developed country like Canada. An often overlooked source of asbestos fibres in our homes has taken a backseat, while (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: What’s the real risk and cost for Regina’s wastewater P3?

The City of Regina is engaged in a controversial debate about a proposed public private partnership (P3) for the city’s wastewater plant.

Residents formed a Regina Water Watch group to keep the facility public. They collected enough names to take the issue to a municipal referendum on September 25th, despite attempts by the city to disallow signatures on spurious grounds. Regina mayor Michael Fougere launched an aggressive advertising campaign in support of the P3, spending over $300,000 in advertising and robocalls. (For its part he Regina Water Watch group has produced an excellent video, (Read more…)