Sask. Premier Brad Wall says work still needed in province's north
Wall said increased supports needed
As Saskatchewan's premier looks at cutting human resources staffing in the province, he's reflecting on tragedy that struck the north in 2016.
Brad Wall said one of his proudest moments of the year was seeing Saskatchewan residents' response to shootings in La Loche, Sask., and to the suicides of six young girls in northern communities.
"We have a lot of work to do there," Wall told CBC News in a year-end interview.
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Wall said increased supports are needed for northern communities and residents have been tirelessly advocating for change.
However, in the same interview, Wall said "everything must be on the table" as the province looks for both revenue opportunities and expenditure reductions to chip away at Saskatchewan's billion-dollar deficit.
He noted 60 per cent of the province's expenditures go to human resources wages.
Recognizing resources needed
Wall visited La Loche in the days following shootings that left four dead and seven others injured. During those visits, he said he learned of fundamentally basic things that weren't working.
"We've added some resources in terms of Dene speaking resources on the education side; we've added a bit on the mental health side," he said.
"We found out when we were there that the X-ray machine didn't work," he added.
Youth suicide crisis
Wall also visited northern Saskatchewan in November to meet with Chief Tammy Cook-Searson of Lac La Ronge Indian Band to discuss mental health supports following the suicides of six teenage girls in northern Saskatchewan.
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"She had been advocating for a mental health centre in the area," said Wall.
"That would be meaningful support and we hope to engage the federal government on it. We would obviously need to do our part as well."
Wall said the provincial health and finance ministers have been engaged in a dialogue with the federal government about Indigenous health and northern mental health issues, and he hopes the province and federal government can partner in making those supports available.
With files from Jill Morgan