NDP candidate Colleen Henning has spent the last month mounting her campaign to win the Lloydminster seat in the next provincial election, but it also looks different due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Like her opponent, incumbent Saskatchewan Party MLA Colleen Young, her campaign has not been able to have large gatherings due to COVID-19. This means getting the message out through media, online and physically distanced doorknocking, with extra sanitization and mask-wearing.
She says she’s had many positive experiences meeting with people thus far, and as the NDP continues to build their platform, she’s been inviting resident’s input.
“While I’ve been doorknocking so far, I’ve been focused not so much on talking about our platform, or what we have out so far, but on hearing what’s on people’s mind. So some of that is COVID related, and some has been the economic problems we’ve been having prior to COVID.”
Henning explains the NDP, through their COVID recovery plan, is looking not only to rebuild the economy but improve care systems and bring Saskatchewan to a provincial $15 an hour minimum wage.
“Some of the points in [the NDP COVID recovery plan] are to have not just better home care, but the best home care in Canada, to reduce pressure on emergency rooms and long term care staff, and to invest more in schools and child care.”
She adds that the NDP would also look to create a “Saskatchewan First” policy, that would have Saskatchewan workers and companies get hired on infrastructure jobs in the province first.
She has previously been vocal about her support for both roadway safety improvements and building digital infrastructure, such as enhanced cellphone and internet services within the riding. She explains by having this, people all over the area will have the same opportunity to look for work in a continually growing online job market, as well as have the ability to work virtually as the pandemic continues.
“That fits into a broader context of job and income security. So for Saskatchewan to prosper, the people of Saskatchewan all need to prosper. The expression a rising tide lifts all ships, that’s what we’re going for.”
While the Lloydminster riding has been a Saskatchewan Party stronghold since the Party was first elected here in the 1999 election, Henning believes more people could come to the NDP as she gets the word out about the NDP’s plans for the province, and dispels what she calls “myths” surrounding the NDP, including that they are “anti-pipeline” or “anti-oil and gas.”
“We do believe that realistically, the world is changing and oil has let down the people of Saskatchewan and Alberta in the last few years. It hasn’t been the reliable source of jobs and income that it once was. So we believe we need to diversify, but we are not against it.”
She also points to people’s concerns about financial management under an NDP government, saying that their investment plans would save money for residents and Saskatchewan as a whole.
“We want to invest in families, that’s a big thing. For every dollar invested in families, you get back nearly two dollars in economic growth quickly, and in the long term, you’ll save six to ten dollars on health care, social services and justice costs.”
Colleen Henning and Colleen Young are the only two candidates in the Saskatchewan election for the Lloydminster riding. Voters will go to the polls or have their ballots mailed by or before October 26th.