Saskatchewan's advocate for children and youth says he hopes the final report of the province's special committee on traffic safety - which will be made public Friday - will tackle issues around drinking and driving.

On Facebook recently, Bob Pringle posted concerns about Statistics Canada numbers that indicate rates of impaired driving charges for young people are much higher in Saskatchewan than the national average.

"Typically people think we're into child welfare only, but we have issues and perspective on anything where people are young," Pringle said in an interview Wednesday.

In 2011, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island recorded the highest impaired driving rates overall among provinces, according to Statistics Canada.

"Hopefully the traffic board report will have something to say about this," Pringle said, noting numbers of impaired driving charges in Alberta and Manitoba are better than those for Saskatchewan, where recorded incidents have been increasing over recent years.

"There may be some best practices on the Prairies where we can learn from other provinces," Pringle said, noting options could include changes to legislation, law enforcement practices and education and prevention efforts.

Pringle said he intends to send a letter to Donna Harpauer, the provincial cabinet minister responsible for SGI, requesting a meeting to discuss the issue.

Harpauer said Wednesday she would be happy to meet with Pringle, and like him, she would be surprised if the traffic safety committee report didn't make recommendations related to drinking and driving.

"We have the traffic safety committee, the all-party committee, that's been having consultations around the province and there is undoubtedly going to be submissions and ... presentations on this very issue," Harpauer said.

"We definitely believe this is a concern and hope the committee has some recommendations ... that we need to consider as well as others we're hoping we can implement fairly quickly."

The committee was chaired by MLA and legislative secretary Darryl Hickie and looked at a variety of traffic safety issues. Harpauer said the government will look to its report before announcing any action regarding drinking and driving. She noted SGI as well as the ministries of justice and corrections and policing made presentations to the committee regarding drinking and driving concerns.

So did Mothers Against Drunk Driving. MADD Canada chapter services manager Louise Twerdy said she was pleased that the committee was struck and that MADD was involved in the consultations.

"What we're hoping to see are some meaningful changes that are going to lead to increased safety and the overall reduced impaired driving rate in the province of Saskatchewan," Twerdy said Wednesday.

She said MADD wants to see two things in particular: expanded prohibition of any alcohol consumption for young drivers, and increased administrative sanctions for drivers of all ages who have certain levels of blood-alcohol content in their systems, but not enough to be charged with a criminal offence.

Source: The Star Phoenix



Last updated on: 2013-09-04 | Link to this post