(11 June 2020)
Members of the Legislative Assembly are returning to the legislature after a three-month hiatus due to COVID-19. The 14-day sitting will allow our government to introduce and pass a provincial budget that invests in building a strong Saskatchewan while ensuring the document receives the legislative scrutiny that it deserves.
K-12 Students Returning to Classrooms on September 1
Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will be returning to the classroom in the upcoming school year, which is set to begin as early as September 1. This comes after an indefinite suspension of in-class learning was announced in response to COVID-19.
While the classroom may look a little different, our priority is the health and safety of students, staff and caregivers. The Chief Medical Health Officer will continue providing advice and recommendations as the planning and implementation process takes place.
I would like to congratulate all high school and post-secondary graduates in the Class of 2020. While this is certainly not how you imagined your year would end, I applaud your efforts to find innovative and safe ways to celebrate your achievements.
Phase 3 Underway: Our province recently entered Phase 3 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan which has seen restaurants, gyms and other personal care services take measures to resume serving clients within the guidelines set forth by our health authorities.
Beaches and Playgrounds: Included as part of Phase 3 is the re-opening of beaches and playgrounds. As the weather continues to improve, I am pleased that children and families will be able to enjoy our province’s many amenities in a cautious and responsible way.
Gathering Sizes May Increase: While public gathering sizes have increased to 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors, it is important to remember to practice physical distancing of two meters between each person as any gathering increases the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Visitation Guidelines: Saskatchewan’s success in flattening the COVID-19 curve is the result of a collective and concerted effort that has been difficult at times, especially when it means distancing ourselves from seniors and those in long term care centres. Recently, we announced expanded visitation guidelines for Saskatchewan Health Authority facilities to allow residents to safely visit and support their loved ones in care.
Places of Worship: The number of people allowed in places of worship is increasing to one-third of the seating capacity of a facility to a maximum of 150 people – whichever is less. Although the number of people allowed inside places of worship is increasing, public health measures and guidelines in the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan still need to be followed, including the need to maintain physical distancing. These guidelines apply to all worship services, including celebrations of life, weddings and outdoor ceremonies.
Wage Supplements: Our government recently announced the expansion of the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program to include a larger number of workers who are helping our most vulnerable residents, including all of the workers in our long-term care facilities. These workers have provided tremendous physical and emotional support to our seniors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and it is important we recognize their great work.
Eviction Protection for Businesses: Small businesses are a critical part of our economy and, as we settle into Phase 3 of our Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, it is important to ensure these businesses can continue to operate without the fear of being evicted. That is why we announced commercial eviction protection for tenants who have been impacted by the pandemic.
While every provincial economy has taken a hit – and Saskatchewan is no exception –87% of workers in our province have been able to keep working through the pandemic and, as more businesses start to re-open, even more will be able to return to work.
Getting Through This Together
Together, we have proven that we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we can re-open safely. The latest Statistics Canada figures show Saskatchewan added 600 new jobs in May over April and has the second-lowest unemployment rate in Canada at 12.5%.
As we continue to re-open our economy, I encourage everyone to be careful and cautious. I also encourage you to find local businesses in your community to support so that we all can get through these challenging times together.
You can learn more about our Re-Open Saskatchewan plan online at Saskatchewan.ca/re-open.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Ken.
Past Legislative Reports