Report from the Legislature – December 10, 2014

Monday marked the final day of Saskatchewan’s fall legislative session, a busy and productive time in which we are able to engage in debate, exchange ideas and work toward meaningful legislative changes to enhance the enviable quality of life we all enjoy.  Highlights included:

• Development of a 10 year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan;
• Opening and start of construction on a total of 92 new housing unit projects in the province;
• Opening and start of construction on long-term care homes in Prince Albert and Kelvington;
• Proceeding with the Request for Proposals to build nine new joint-use schools in the province;
• Ground-breaking for the new K-12 school in Langenburg;
• Confirmation of our province’s AAA credit rating by international rating agencies;
• A balanced budget with a projected surplus of over $70 million, despite volatile oil prices

While the fall legislative session is finished, our work to keep Saskatchewan strong continues.  We have a balanced budget, lower provincial taxes and a growing population.  Growth has given us the ability to invest over $6 billion in schools, hospitals and highways – with more to do.  Since 2007, Saskatchewan has welcomed 400 more doctors, 2600 more nurses and 750 more people working in a growing number of long-term care facilities. Our wait times for surgery, which were the worst in Canada under an NDP government, are now second best.

In the past year, more than 15,000 new jobs were created across the province, a job creation rate that is three times the national average.  According to Statistics Canada, our 3.4 per cent unemployment rate is also Canada’s lowest and has been for 24 consecutive months.

Together, we’ve accomplished a lot and it is in stark contrast to the bleak prospects under the NDP.  For example, between 2001 and 2007, our province actually had the worst job creation record in Canada.  Today, Saskatchewan is home to a strong economy and a growing labour market that will have an estimated 95,000 job opportunities by the year 2017.

For the first time in a generation, many of our young people are staying in Saskatchewan to further their education and start their careers.  And we’re doing our part to encourage that. Under the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship, every high school grad who attends a post-secondary institution in Saskatchewan can now receive $500 per year to a maximum of $2,000.  And, since 2007, over 50,000 post-secondary grads have taken advantage of the Graduate Retention Program; tuition rebates of up to $20,000 for graduates who remain in Saskatchewan., Saskatchewan’s new career development website, is a great new tool to help students learn about the growing number of opportunities in Saskatchewan.  It is designed to connect them with employers for in-demand careers and to help educate, train and develop a highly-skilled workforce, which is a key goal of the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth.

The integrated site, which was officially launched earlier this week, will meet the career planning needs of all Saskatchewan residents from kindergarten to retirement, with an initial focus on youth in both provincial and federal schools, and those transitioning beyond high school.

An integral piece within is myBlueprint – an innovative career planning tool that allows students to investigate career and post-secondary opportunities, set career goals, develop an educational plan, and track their progress.  Each student can customize their plan, both in high school and beyond, to best fit their specific career interests and future goals.