Lloydminster MLA Colleen Young has been at the helm for nine years, but is to be tested at the local party level by cattleman James Thorsteinson.
The local Sask Party riding will hold its contest on Nov. 30 in Paradise Hill where the members will have their say in who should represent the party to contest the provincial vote on Oct. 28, 2024.
Both contestants possess community interests and involvement and point to their ability to listen to what people are saying and take those concerns to Regina.
Thorsteinson has 8 years as head of the local SaskParty and nine years as president of the party at the provincial level. This he says has given him good relations with members of caucus. Young points to her tenure as a voice that is already at the bargaining table to speak on matters across the region, along with recent files like Highway 21 work and an in-community ambulance service in Pierceland. Other big ticket items include renos at both high schools, the wastewater treatment plant, and the forthcoming events centre in Lloydminster.
On the health file which both candidates see as the hot button topic, Young says a new hospital to serve Lloydminster and area is not on the cards. Thorsteinson wants to keep options open as to whether an upgrade will be sufficient versus a rebuild.
Young says she met with the health minister and Lloydminster mayor this week to discuss pushing the health needs assessment forward, the urgency to address the shortage of long-term care spaces, and the matter of rebuilding the Jubilee Seniors Home. She noted that many of the items from the last health needs assessment were not done.
“Long-term care beds is critical in our community. It has been for some time. It has not been addressed in any way – and with the aging of the Jubilee Home, which was recognized by the previous rural and remote health minister. I’ve done a lot of advocacy in securing a spot for that long-term care facility and for the hospice,” says Young.
Both Alberta and Saskatchewan have agreed that unless it is addressed, Lloydminster remains short by 148 beds going to 2035.
Thorsteinson agrees that “the Lloydminster Hospital is severely lacking in acute care beds for the population it serves.” He sees the effect that this has on the hospital when it comes to the availability of beds, if spaces are taken up with long-term care.
His overall assessment as his competitor is approaching a decade of service is that people want change. He says he will look to the relations he has built with caucus as provincial president to move things forward.
“I’ve got many contacts within the party from my experience as the president for nearly nine years. I’ve got a good working relationship with the caucus already. So, I’m not going to be going in there cold,” says Thorsteinson.
On Nov. 30, members can vote from 5:30 p.m. CST in Paradise Hill. The actual meeting will get underway at 8:30 p.m. at which both candidates will make presentations. Votes will be counted that night and the SaskParty is expected to release results after.