Report from the Legislature – December 11, 2013

Our government is focused on growth, its benefits and how it can create a better quality of life for all Saskatchewan people.  Growth creates many new opportunities but also many new challenges.  Managing growth and meeting these challenges was the focus of our latest legislative session in Regina.

As of July 1st there were 1,108,303 people living in our province – population growth of more than 100,000 people in just six years.  In that same time, our government has more than doubled investments in infrastructure projects like hospitals, schools and highways.  Still, despite those investments, there remains an important “to-do” list.  Using the benefits of growth, our government is committed to tackling the needs of a growing province.  To do so, we must to look for ways to ensure taxpayers’ dollars go further and that means exploring new and innovative approaches – such as public private partnerships (P3’s) – to build these kinds of projects.

As a government, we believe it is our role to facilitate growth, not lead it, and support the good work Saskatchewan people are doing to build a better province.  We all have a role to play to ensure Saskatchewan continues leading the nation in categories that include exports, economic growth and job creation.

Saskatchewan will set a new record for employment growth in 2013.  12,300 new jobs were created year-over-year (Nov. ‘12-Nov. ‘13) with thousands of new opportunities in areas like transportation and warehousing, scientific and technical services, manufacturing and agriculture.  This proves Saskatchewan’s economy is not only strong but diverse.  Even when there are job losses in one sector, they are more than offset by the new jobs in other areas.  Our province continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the country and a youth unemployment rate that is half the national average.

One challenge our province continues to face – highlighted by the more than 12,000 available jobs at – is a shortage of skilled labour.  It is a priority of this government to ensure we are training people today to meet the labour requirement of tomorrow.  We have made progress in this area and intend to do more.  Specific recommendations for action are expected early in the New Year.

In terms of healthcare, there is always more to do but there is also progress to report.  In addition to innovative approaches and pilot programs to provide better quality care is the fact we are on track to meet the targets to provide better, safer surgery sooner than ever before, as outlined in the four-year Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative.

The fall legislative session included the introduction of our anti-bullying action plan, new measures to improve traffic safety, as well as additional training spaces, investments in infrastructure, affordable housing and more care and supports for Saskatchewan seniors.  These are all measures that work to improve safety and quality of life for all Saskatchewan people.  Other highlights included a new Lobbyists Act and amendments to The Saskatchewan Employment Act.

While a growing province presents many challenges, we far prefer them to the challenges of decline that our province was facing only a few years ago.  The current legislative session will resume March 3rd with the new provincial budget to be delivered later that month.