(6 Dec 2012)
Meeting the Challenges of Growth
With Saskatchewan growing faster than it has in almost a hundred years, our government took action during the fall sitting of the legislature to ensure that growth continues. We also took measures that will allow us to continue to meet the challenges of growth.
When we learned school divisions were facing unexpected pressure due to increased enrolment, we used the benefits of growth to provide more resources to them. Eight of the province’s fastest-growing school divisions received an additional $6.6 million in mid-year funding to provide education services and find space for new students. We also committed $800,000 to start a process that will result in 40 to 50 new relocatable classrooms by the start of the 2013-14 school year.
In a growing economy, you need to have a labour environment in which the rights and responsibilities of employers, employees and unions are clearing defined. To that end, our government introduced The Saskatchewan Employment Act during the fall sitting of the legislature. This new act includes changes such as indexing the minimum wage to the rate of inflation, requiring unions to disclose financial statements and the results of votes to members and removing a union’s right to fine workers who cross picket lines. The Saskatchewan Employment Act also preserves things like the 40-hour work week.
The fall session also included the government’s mid-year financial report, which was reflective of the strength of the Saskatchewan economy. While resource revenues were down, strength in other parts of our economy, including a growing tax base, allowed Saskatchewan to maintain a balanced budget. We continue to be the only province in the country where the books are balanced.
Successfully managing growth also means taking a critical look at how things have been done in the past and what can be done to improve them. During the fall legislative session, our government not only announced major changes to Saskatchewan’s liquor laws, we also moved forward with a plan that will see full line, privately owned liquor stores in the province. This is an extension of our already blended private-public retailing system. We have maintained that the existing SLGA stores will remained publicly owned, but these new, privately owned stores will address our province’s growing needs. The process to award these liquor stores will be transparent and competitive. The request for proposal process is already underway for the three new stores, two in Saskatoon and one in Regina.
Another significant, exciting change was the announcement of legislation which will allow for a public share offering in the Information Services Corporation (ISC). This could generate as much as $120 million for the province. We also introduced and passed the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings to help families save for the children’s post-secondary education. The needless death of a young woman working on a highway crew this summer led to new legislation to improve safety in the Orange Zone.
The fall session followed the direction laid out in the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth. This plan is not about growth for growth’s sake. It is about using the benefits of growth to improve the quality of life for everyone. It was this principle that we followed over the last two months. We commit to continuing to follow this principle to move our province forward, ensuring that Saskatchewan remains the best place in Canada to live, work and raise a family.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Ken.
Past Legislative Reports