Have a Blessed and Safe Christmas Season
The excitement of the season is upon us with Christmas parties, receptions and socials. Families are busy with last minute shopping and the children are anxiously awaiting Santa’s arrival. Looking forward to the new year is exciting. To assist with safe traveling the “Ding in the New Year” program will be implemented again this year as a sobering reminder of the tragic consequences of impaired driving.
“Ding in the New Year” is a great partnership with SGI, Moose Jaw Police Service, the City of Moose Jaw, Golden West Radio, Moose Jaw Express, and Moose Jaw & District Chamber of Commerce to prevent impaired driving, particularly on New Year’s Eve. For nearly 30 years, Ding in the New Year has provided free bus service in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw on New Year’s Eve.
More needs to be done to prevent impaired driving. Impaired driving is 100 per cent preventable. Last year 57 people died in Saskatchewan in collisions involving alcohol, including three fatalities during the holiday season. In January of 2017, our government strengthened penalties for impaired driving. Saskatchewan now have the toughest laws in Canada. The good news is that attitudes around impaired driving are starting to change with people planning for a safe ride home.
In addition to free transit service on New Year’s Eve, citizens can also call a cab or arrange for a designated driver. During the Christmas season the local Kinsmen Club also launches a program that offers safe rides home from parties. The service club is typically hired by the host of the event and will provide transportation for everyone at the venue. Kinsmen Club members will take guests and their vehicle home safely. The safe ride efforts of the Kinsmen Club are a great service to our community.
Strict penalties will also be enforced in preventing drug impaired driving once federal legislation legalizes recreational use of marijuana. It is currently and will continue to be illegal to drive while impaired, whether by drugs or alcohol. Legislation has been introduced to give police the authority to use federally-approved roadside drug screening devices to check for impaired driving, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a driver is impaired.
Our government recognizes that additional steps can be taken to reduce impaired driving in Saskatchewan. For example, Saskatchewan people have told us that ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft would provide them with another option for them to get home safely. These are services that would provide a vehicle and driver for pre-arranged transportation through a digital platform or app.
This fall, we introduced legislation to allow for Ridesharing Services to operate in Saskatchewan. This establishes a framework for licensing and insurance, sets out appropriate safeguards for the public, and gives municipalities authority to determine the right public transportation mix for their communities.
In his Christmas message, Premier Brad Wall reflected that Christmas is the ultimate story of hope because that’s what God gave to us all. God sent His son Jesus, to bring hope and peace to all, and invites us to share that hope and peace with others, especially with those in need. Debbie and I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas season, filled with peace and hope.