Report from the Legislature – March 6, 2013

Our government is committed to taking action that reflects the values important to Saskatchewan people.  After extensive consideration and consultation, we have decided the drinking age in Saskatchewan will not be lowered from 19 to 18.   The idea to look at possibly changing the drinking age was the result of a resolution from the Saskatchewan Party’s youth wing.  So we said as a government, we would look at it and accept comments and feedback from some of the major stakeholders, as well as the public on this matter.   We received feedback from groups such as the province’s police chiefs, Mothers Against Drinking and Driving, Students Against Drinking and Driving, medical professionals and addictions counsellors. Based on what we heard, we have decided not to change the legal drinking age.  With this decision, Saskatchewan remains in line with most other Canadian provinces where the legal drinking age is 19.  It has been 19 here since 1976.

Another area our government is seeking public input is on traffic safety.  To that end, a new legislative committee has been created to explore ways to improve traffic safety and reduce fatalities.  This new committee is made up of both government and opposition MLAs.  In the coming months, the committee will be holding meetings throughout the province to consult with the public and stakeholders.  Areas such as ways to improve traffic safety, reduce the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by factors like impaired driving, distracted driving, excessive speed, wildlife and intersections will be considered.  The findings of the consultations will be release in a report on August 30, 2013.   Last year there were 175 traffic fatalities on our highways, the deadliest year in recent memory.  After the senseless death of an 18 year-old woman working in the Orange Zone, our government took action to implement safety improvements for highways workers, including rumble strips to be used in prioritized work zones, gates that narrow the approaches and increased fines for drivers caught speeding in the Orange Zone.  We also introduced legislation for photo radar in the Orange Zones which will be implemented once it’s passed in the spring.

With the spring session of the Legislature upon us, our government is committed to moving forward on the commitments we made in the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth.    To that end, one of the first orders of business will be our sixth consecutive balanced budget.    Overall spending increases will be less than four percent, but Saskatchewan people will not see any significant cuts or elimination of important programs and services.   It’s been a more challenging budgeting process given pressures such as lower resource revenues, but we will move forward on Growth Plan initiatives such as SaskBuilds, a government agency that will look for innovative ways to address our growing province’s ongoing infrastructure needs.   The spring session of the Legislature began on March 4th.