Report from the Legislature – November 13, 2013

Traffic  Safety Takes Priority
One fatality is too many.  With the knowledge 184 people lost their lives on our roads and highways last year, it was clear that we needed to take action.  The safety of all Saskatchewan people is paramount and that is why our government is immediately moving forward with more than half of the recommendations included in a report from the special committee on Traffic Safety.

Our plan includes tougher penalties for drinking and driving, expanded photo radar for speed control, and increasing awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.  Highlights include zero drug and alcohol tolerance for all drivers under the age of 19 as well as all drivers in the Graduated Driver’s Licencing (GDL) program and Motorcycle GDL program; immediate 60-day roadside licence suspension and three-day vehicle impoundment with any Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) under .08 for drivers under 19 years of age, and all drivers in any GDL program; immediate licence suspension up to court disposition and a 30-day roadside vehicle impoundment for a first offence for all drivers with a BAC of .08 to .15, or those who refuse a test and introducing mandatory ignition interlock for high BAC offenders.

We are also implementing a two-year photo radar pilot project at high-risk locations and in school zones, increasing financial penalties for drivers caught going more than 35 km/h over the speed limit; and making booster seats mandatory for children under the age of seven, and less than 145 cm (4’9”) in height and 36 kg (80 lbs) in weight.  Ultimately, our goal is to reduce deaths and injuries that occur on Saskatchewan roads and it is our hope that these initiatives will have an immediate impact on driving behaviour so that we all benefit from improved traffic safety throughout our province.

Seniors Care Pilot Projects Underway
Saskatchewan seniors should have the appropriate care, at the right time and be able to live independently in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.  It is with this in mind that our government has introduced Home First/Quick Response pilot projects in both Regina and Saskatoon.

The Home First model, which has been tested and implemented with great success in other jurisdictions, enhances Home Care’s response to crisis in intensive short-term service needs, encourages early discharge from acute care to community options, prevents unnecessary admissions to emergency departments and engages additional service providers in the system to support seniors in their homes.

After an extensive review and consultations, we have brought the best of all programs together to create a truly unique, made in Saskatchewan approach.  This will not only save the system money, but will allow people to live with independence and dignity in their own environment.  A third Home First/Quick Response pilot will be launched in Prince Albert in the coming months.

Saskatchewan Now Requires Mandatory Asbestos Reporting
With the health and safety of Saskatchewan people in mind, our government is pleased to have recently proclaimed The Public Health (Howard’s Law) Amendment Act which makes the web-based Saskatchewan Asbestos Registry mandatory for crown corporations, school districts, health region facilities and provincial government buildings.  In addition, there is a voluntary registry encouraging building owners to post information about asbestos containing material.

This registry would not have been possible without the passionate advocacy of the late Howard Willems.  Diagnosed with cancer as a result of inhaling asbestos fibres, Mr. Willems passed away just over a year ago.  His legacy will now live on through this mandatory registry which will work to improve the health, safety and well-being of Saskatchewan workers and their families.

Publications addressing the safe removal and handling of asbestos are available at

Job Growth Continues, Unemployment Lowest In Nation
Considering one of the best ways to measure economic success is a person’s ability to find work, the latest labour force data for Saskatchewan is very encouraging.  Overall, across the province, employment is up nearly 3 per cent over last year with employment among Aboriginals up nearly 10 per cent.  Our unemployment rate is 3.6 per cent and our youth unemployment rate is 6.3 per cent – both are the lowest in Canada.  Not only are there are record number of people working (556,500), there are regularly more than 13,000 available job postings at  Having the strongest job market in Canada will certainly help attract more skilled workers but our government understands there is more work to do to meet the demands of a growing province.  This includes our commitment to creating 1,000 new training seats this year.