The 2021 Municipalities of Saskatchewan Virtual Conference and Tradeshow ended on Wednesday with the bear pit session featuring provincial cabinet ministers.
Representatives from a number of municipalities had the opportunity to send in their questions to ministers covering everything from infrastructure, government supports and the COVID-19 pandemic.
A hot topic in recent days has been the possibility of the Regina International Airport losing its air traffic control tower, an issue several other cities in the country are facing with their airports as NAV Canada undergoes service reviews. Minister of Highways Fred Bradshaw said this would be a detrimental loss.
“We would be the only capital city that did not have a tower,” stated Bradshaw. “I completely disagree with this and I have talked to the federal minister of transportation and asked him to hold off on doing that.”
Premier Scott Moe followed Bradshaw’s comments by saying now is not the time to be reducing services to any airports in the country.
“This is absolutely no time for the federal minister to be considering any change of reduction in services such as this,” said Moe. “It would greatly impact not only people’s personal enjoyment in the future, but it would greatly impact our economic recovery.”
Moe and other premiers with cities affected by the reviews intend to reach out to the prime minister to consider halting the closure of these control towers.
NAV Canada said in a statement in November that Regina’s airport has been identified for review due to long-term air traffic levels, even before the pandemic.
COVID-19 was a reoccurring topic during the forum, including one question that asked what can be done to support people in communities that have faced public scrutiny after being diagnosed with the virus.
Health Minister Paul Merriman said it’s not acceptable and it’s something people shouldn’t be facing.
“This is no fault of their own that they got COVID-19,” started Merriman. “That’s why we weren’t identifying specific towns in COVID-19 updates because someone could be identified and then be shunned from the community because they brought the virus into their community. That’s just not fair.”
Merriman noted how it has affected contact tracers on some occasions because residents are afraid of being criticized by community members.
The entire bear pit session can be viewed on the Municipalities of Saskatchewan’s YouTube channel.