(18 May 2017)
Spring Session Highlights
The provincial budget has generated discussion inside the legislature and across the province. Many of the difficult decisions highlighted a Legislative Session that saw Saskatchewan move away from its reliance on resource revenues and ensure the economy and finances stay strong.
In the long run, it is better to make tough but necessary choices today and avoid kicking the deficit can down the road for someone else to deal with. Our choice to meet the fiscal challenge now meant making some difficult decisions for the long-term fiscal and economic strength of our province.
Recent economic indicators show the resilience of Saskatchewan’s diversified economy. Employment is up through the first four months of the year, exports are up significantly and Saskatchewan has led the country in areas like wholesale trade, retail sales and building permit growth.
The decisions we are making today will ensure it stays strong into the future.
The government passed several pieces of legislation during the spring sitting, including:
- Legislation to reduce health care administration and better co-ordinate health services by amalgamating the province’s health regions into one provincial health authority;
- Legislation to protect victims of domestic violence by allowing them to end rental leases early if necessary to remove themselves from an unsafe situation;
- Legislation to clearly define what does and doesn’t constitute “privatization”;
- Legislation to encourage investment in innovation through the creation of the first “patent box” incentive in North America;
- Legislation to improve pipeline safety; and
- Legislation to improve safety for tow truck operators by allowing flashing blue lights to be used on tow trucks.
During the spring session, Premier Wall announced that, in addition to an appeal, the province will use the notwithstanding clause to protect school choice following a court decision that would force non-Catholic students out of Catholic schools and threaten funding to other faith-based schools.
NDP Supports Federal Carbon Tax
On the final day of the spring sitting, the same day the federal government announced details of their plan to impose a job-killing carbon tax on Saskatchewan people and businesses, the Saskatchewan NDP finally admitted that they would impose their own job-killing carbon tax on Saskatchewan.
In fact, the only candidate seeking to lead the Saskatchewan NDP has said “we applaud the federal government’s recent announcement of a minimum price on carbon.”
The plan put forward by Ottawa and supported by the NDP is harmful to Saskatchewan’s agriculture, mining and oil & gas sectors. Our government stands with Saskatchewan people who say no to a carbon tax that is dangerous for the economy and for working families across the province.
Provincial Parks Open For Summer
As the spring session comes to an end, Saskatchewan Provincial Parks officially open for the season. If you and your family are preparing for camping adventures or fishing trips, recreation and relaxation, it is important to note that it’s still early and a number of parks may have reduced services.
For example, some parks may be under a precautionary drinking water advisory as they prepare their water lines for the year. I encourage those visiting a Provincial Park in the coming days to check out http://www.saskparks.net/SpringCamping for an updated list of available services.
Saskatchewan Provincial Parks will be celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary with special programs throughout the season, including free day entry on Canada Day, July 1, and Canada’s Parks Day, July 15. Provincial Parks will also offer a 150-themed geocaching program.
In addition to the Canada 150 events, a wide range of popular programs and activities include Learn to Camp, Learn to Fish, interpretive activities and much more.
New Drinking & Driving Campaign From SGI
Earlier this week SGI launched a new version of its emotionally-charged multi-media awareness campaign showing the void left behind when a loved one is killed by an impaired driver.
The stock photographs used in the original campaign have been replaced with photos of real Saskatchewan people killed by impaired drivers. This new campaign highlights 12 lives cut short because of the senseless decision someone else made to drive impaired.
You can see the television ad and read more about the lives of the people featured at www.sgi.sk.ca/disappear. Our hope is that this campaign will prevent others from experiencing the pain of losing a loved one because of someone’s decision to drive impaired.
Strengthened laws for impaired driving took effect January 1, 2017 in Saskatchewan. Changes include the addition of a three-day vehicle seizure for experienced drivers caught for the first time with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .04, increasing the age of zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol from under 19 to 21 and under, and making ignition interlock laws the strongest in Canada.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Ken.
Past Legislative Reports