Report from the Legislature – February 6, 2013

Saskatchewan’s economy remains one of the strongest in the country, if not the world.  Major economic forecasters are predicting we will be number two in Canada in terms of economic growth this year.  Oil production in Saskatchewan hit a new record high in 2012. At 1,086,054, we are well on our way to achieving one of the key goals of the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth: a population of 1.2 million by 2020.   A strong economy has allowed our government to invest in programs and services that are improving the quality of life for all Saskatchewan people.


With our next budget just around the corner, our government is committed to keeping another one of the goals of the Growth Plan: balanced budgets.  The 2013-14 budget will be balanced, but there are several factors we are taking into consideration as we work toward that goal. Growth is not without its challenges


Property values in Saskatchewan have increased dramatically over the last four years.   This is another reflection of our strong economy but rising property values put upwards pressure on property taxes.  While our government will do what we can to mitigate any increases, it presents a challenge in the budgetary process.   Other challenges are lower oil and potash prices.


That being said, Saskatchewan municipalities will continue to receive record levels of support from our government.   $264 million will be allocated in municipal revenue sharing funding in the upcoming budget.  That’s an 11 per cent increase from last year and continues our commitment to providing Saskatchewan’s cities, towns, villages and RMs with a long-term stable source of provincial funding. During our time in government, revenue sharing to municipalities has doubled.


Revenue sharing provides municipalities with unconditional funding they can then use to provide the programs and services a growing province needs.   And our province is indeed growing.   In 2012, the number of babies born in Saskatchewan hit a 22-year high of 15,035.   The last time we cracked the 15,000 mark was 1991.  The most popular name for baby girls last year was Emma; Liam was the most popular boys’ name.


Our government continues to take action to work toward the ambitious goals outlined in the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth.   Following the announcement of the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) in the Growth Plan last fall, we are moving forward in partnership with the U of S and PCS to provide $50 million in funding by 2020 to address the increasing global demand for safe, reliable food.  In addition to announcing the appointment of the CEO last month, this week we announced the appointment of three new directors to the founding board of the GIFS.  With its abundance of natural resources, Saskatchewan is well-suited to play a significant role as a secure source of food to meet the needs of a hungry world.