Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles is applauding several initiatives in this year's Throne Speech, including stiffer penalties for those who speed in construction zones, and ideas for agriculture.
Eagles said that the Throne Speech contained a lot of the same ideas as the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth that was released by the government nine days earlier, including the $150 million Sask. Builds Fund for infrastructure investment, a lower small business tax rate and additional engagement with First Nations people.
But it also calls for stiffer penalties for people who speed in highway construction zones, or Orange Zones. People caught speeding would faces triple the fines of the normal level, and photo radar would be used in construction areas. The announcement came two months after 18-year-old flag person Ashley Richards was struck and killed by a vehicle while working in a construction zone near Midale.
“It was something that was entirely preventable, and it was … an absolute tragedy,” said Eagles. “I think the measures that this government has taken are ones that perhaps slow people down.”
New penalties for those who speed through construction zones were enforced, starting on November 1.
She also supports the introduction of photo radar in construction zones.
“They're being watched, and they know they're being watched, and it will slow them down. If they're foolish enough to go through it once, and get caught, it's going to hit them pretty hard in the pocketbook, and then they'll learn,” said Eagles.
Eagles was pleased with the Throne Speech's goals for agriculture, particularly the promises for value-added agriculture.
“Value-added is so important to this industry,” said Eagles. “It just never made sense for the farmers in this area to grow the best durum in the world, truck it out, have it processed and packaged. Then we bring it back and put it on our store shelves so we can buy it back as pasta. Why aren't we doing it right here?”
The opposition NDP panned the Throne Speech, saying it contained a number of glaring omissions. Interim NDP Leader John Nilson believes the Throne Speech has nothing for the middle class or small business, and lays out choices that reject common sense in favour of privatization at all costs, he said. It also lacks a new plan for health care, and it doesn't mention the film industry, which had its tax credit eliminated in March's budget.