(17 Oct 2012)
Saskatchewan Plan for Growth
Without question, the last five years have been good ones for Saskatchewan. We are leading the nation in economic growth. Our population is at a new record high.
This growth has meant we could afford to cut income, property and business taxes, reduce surgical wait times and help people with disabilities. The question now is: do we want this growth to continue? The answer MLAs heard when they consulted with constituents this summer was a resounding yes.
But you also want your government to address the challenges arising from growth and ensure the benefits are shared with everyone. To that end, Premier Brad Wall has announced The Growth Plan for Saskatchewan: Vision 2020 and Beyond. The Growth Plan begins with a goal – that Saskatchewan will be a province of 1.2 million people by 2020.
There are six components to the Growth Plan.
The first component is infrastructure. In order to address that challenge, we have created SaskBuilds – a new government organization to drive infrastructure innovation, financing, design and delivery. Our focus over the next two years will be on renewing roads, water systems, health care facilities and schools.
The second component of our growth plan is keeping the Saskatchewan economy competitive. Our government will lower the business tax rate from 12 to 10 per cent by 2015. This fall, we will introduce the Saskatchewan Employment Act, which will clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of employers, employees and unions in the workplace.
The third component of The Growth Plan for Saskatchewan is fiscal responsibility. Over the next five years, we will pay down another $400 million on the provincial debt - meaning we will have cut the government’s debt in half since 2007. And we will balance the budget each and every year.
The fourth component of the growth plan is education and training. In addition to continuing to invest in post-secondary education, we will also add 300 more apprenticeship spaces and create more apprenticeship training opportunities for high school students. We will work to increase high school completion rates. We will ask businesses to invest more in training.
The fifth component of the plan is innovation. We will continue to support world leading research in agriculture and energy. Our goal is that by 2020 we will increase crop production by 10-million tonnes and increase exports of agri-food products by 50 per cent – to $15 billion.
The sixth component of the growth plan is strengthening Saskatchewan's role on the world stage. Our government will appoint a Premier's Advisory Committee on Asia, as part of our strategy to double Saskatchewan's exports by 2020. We will work to develop new markets in Central and South America. Under the new "Saskatchewan International Future" scholarship, 20 students a year will study business at an international institution with government support. In return, they will agree to live and work in Saskatchewan for five years after they graduate.
The Growth Plan for Saskatchewan: Vision 202 and Beyond also includes targets. Those targets include:
- By the end of 2014, no one will wait longer than 3 months for surgery.
- By 2017, no one will wait to receive emergency room care.
- By 2020, Saskatchewan will have the highest Grade 12 graduation rate in the country.
The Saskatchewan economy is being propelled by our natural resource wealth. There’s been a lot of debate about what we should do with royalty revenues once the debt has been paid off. Premier Wall has asked former University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon to look at that question, by leading the Saskatchewan Heritage Initiative. Professor MacKinnon will develop and recommend options on what Saskatchewan should do with its resource revenues after we pay off the provincial debt.
After years of stagnation, Saskatchewan is growing. But we need to do the right things to sustain growth, to deal with challenges of growth, so our children and their children can build a good life right here. We need a plan.
This government has one.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Ken.
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