Report from the Legislature – October 9, 2013

Making Mental Health & Addictions a Priority
Our growing province is the best place in Canada to live, work and raise a family.  Using the benefits of growth, our government is working to enhance quality of life for all residents which includes making meaningful change in the lives of the one in five Saskatchewan people affected by mental health and addictions issues.  These are people of all ages, in all walks of life and varying situations which is why we have committed to taking action ensuring that these important issues are addressed.

The week of October 6th– October 12th is Mental Illness Awareness Week in Saskatchewan.  In 2013-14, $234 million was allocated to mental health programs and services.  To build on the services provided, we have also been meeting with stakeholders and plan to begin broader public consultations to learn how existing services can be improved to better meet the needs of patients.  Led by the Ministry of Health and in partnership with Education, Social Services, Justice and Corrections and Policing, a complete Mental Health and Addictions Action plan will be ready by next fall.

Overpass Officially Opens
A $43 million overpass at Highway 1 and the West Regina Bypass is now officially open to traffic.  Not only does it improve traffic flow, it allows trucks safe and efficient access to the Global Transportation Hub.  Its completion is an example of the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth in action.  Our government is responding to the demand growth is generating while enabling future growth down the road.

The benefits of growth give us the ability to invest in this project and many others around the province.  In fact, by dedicating $576 million this year, we’re ahead of schedule on our commitment of $2.2 billion in highways and transportation infrastructure over four years.  Since 2008, we invested a record $3.7 billion.  One of the advantages of a growing province is making much-needed improvements in this area – we have and, for the benefit of all Saskatchewan people, we will continue to do so.

Dutch Elm Not Spreading To New Areas
Saskatchewan is home to many healthy urban forests and while protecting them against threats such as Dutch elm disease remains an issue, surveying shows the elm tree-killing fungus hasn’t spread to new areas of the province.  The Ministry of Environment surveys seven management zones – Estevan, Regina, Moose Jaw, Tisdale, Balcarres, Indian Head and Wolseley – and though the number of diseased trees is up from last year, the increase is attributable to more communities surveying for the disease.

Locating and removing infected trees helps limit losses by preventing the disease from spreading to healthy elms.  This keeps our streets greener and reduces tree removal and replanting costs over the long term.  To help protect trees and communities from Dutch elm disease:

  • Do not prune elm trees from April 1 to August 31, when the risk of spreading DED is greatest.
  • Maintain trees to help ensure good health and greater resistance to diseases, including DED.
  • Be sure the person hired to prune elms has completed a recognized training course.
  • Do not transport or store elm firewood.  Dispose elm wood promptly at a location specified by the local municipal authority.
  • Be sure to comply with all provincial regulations concerning the pruning of elm trees.

Call the ministry (toll-free: 1-800-567-4224) or the local municipal office for more information.

Fire Prevention Week
Firefighters in communities across the province are raising awareness about staying safe in the kitchen.  October 6th-12th was officially proclaimed Fire Prevention Week in Saskatchewan and statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that two out of every five house fires start in the kitchen.  Preventative measures and the dangers of unattended cooking are highlighted while parents and caregivers are encouraged to sit down with their children to discuss fire safety.

There are a few simple rules that will help avoid kitchen fires:

  • If there are young children in the house, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible.
  • Keep children at least one metre away from the stove.
  • When cooking, wear clothing with tight-fitting sleeves.
  • Keep potholders, oven mitts, and anything else that can burn away from your stovetop.
  • Clean up food and grease from burners and stovetops as soon as possible.

If experiencing a grease fire, slide a lid over it and turn off the burner.

Caregivers are also encouraged to develop a plan on what to do in case of fire.