Report from the Legislature – July 10, 2013

Saskatchewan remains the place people are choosing to build their future.  Recent population numbers show that the first four months of 2013 saw 4,000 more people call our province home.  This brings the population to an all-time high of 1,093,880.   This is a great start toward reaching our Growth Plan goal of 1.2 million by 2020.

Our growing economy is providing the employment opportunities to support that growth.  In June of this year, we had the strongest employment growth rate in the country and the lowest unemployment rate.  That means that there were 568,200 people working in June, breaking the record set the month before.  Not only are there more people working than this time last year, we have the highest percentage increase among the provinces.   Workers in Saskatchewan are also seeing their wages grow faster than anywhere else in Canada.  Average weekly earnings increased by 4.4 per cent over last year.

Another indicator of our growing economy is huge increases in exports.  In May, exports were up 8.1 per cent over the same time last year, bringing the total for the first five months of 2013 to $14.97 billion.  This is evidence that Saskatchewan has what the world needs, in terms of food, energy and other products.  Our exports now top British Columbia.

This growth is not just seen in our larger cities but also in smaller communities throughout the province.  To that end, our government is amending the requirements for granting liquor franchises in communities where there is no SLGA liquor store or franchise.  This means nine communities with a population more than 1,000 will now be eligible for a franchise, once they have support from the local municipal council.   Our government continues to work to ensure services are available to everyone in Saskatchewan and that everyone benefits from our historic growth.

As summer gets into full swing, you will see more Highways construction throughout the province.  So far, more than $260 million of work is underway to improve Saskatchewan highways.  The most recent projects are the creation of passing lanes south of Fort Qu’Appelle, surfacing the Dalmeny access road,   extensive work on Highway 55 in the northwest and surfacing work on Highway 3 near Paradise Hill.  This is just a fraction to the overall work that will be completed this construction season.  Remember to slow down to 60 km/h in highway work zones.  Fines start at $300.

Another sign of summer in Saskatchewan are busy provincial parks.  To support the important role our parks play in improving the quality of life, we are investing more than $2.3 million in capital upgrades at several parks this year, including Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Duck Mountain, The Battlefords and Lac La Ronge.  Some of these upgrades include; bridge work in Cypress hills, foundation and roof repairs to Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Stanley Mission in Lac La Ronge and building a replacement service centre at The Battlefords Provincial Park.  These investments will ensure future generations have the opportunity to enjoy some of the most beautiful tourism destinations.

Summer also means West Nile season.   When outdoors remember to take precautions to reduce your risk of contracting this potentially deadly virus, such as:

  • using insect repellent containing DEET;
  • wearing protective clothing;
  • reducing time outdoors between dusk and dawn;
  • regularly cleaning and emptying containers that can collect water such as bird baths and eavestroughs;
  • clearing yards of old tires and other items that can collect water;
  •  ensuring rain barrels are covered with mosquito screening or are tightly sealed around the downspout;
  • keeping screens on windows and doors in good repair; and
  • keeping bushes, shrubs and lawns clear of overgrowth and debris.

The high risk time for this virus typically peak from mid-July through August.

While most people who become infected with West Nile experience mild symptoms such as fever, headaches and body aches, however it can pose serious neurological illness like inflammation of the brain and death.  If you experience symptoms such as unusually severe headaches, persistent high fever or confusion seek medical attention immediately.

As with every summer MLAs are in their constituencies and are interested in your feedback regarding the government’s top priorities.  I invite you to contact me and provide the valuable input that allows me to effectively represent the issues that are important to you.

Have an enjoyable and safe summer!