Report from the Legislature – April 15, 2015

Premier Part of Historic Uranium Energy Deal Signing with India

Saskatchewan is already our nation’s top exporter to India, and we are delighted to be part of its future energy mix.  An historic new agreement, announced today, sets the stage for shipments of Canadian uranium to India for electricity generation.  India has a dynamic and growing nuclear energy program, and the opportunity to supply this major customer is a huge deal for our industry, the workers it employs and the Saskatchewan communities it supports.

Saskatchewan is home to 100 per cent of Canada’s uranium mining industry.  Our province is the world’s second-leading producer of uranium and the Athabasca Basin contains the world’s largest high-grade uranium deposits.  Premier Wall promoted our uranium resources during his two trade missions to India in March 2011 and November of last year.  During the first mission, he met with Prime Minister Modi, then the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat.

Job Numbers Up, Unemployment Remain Lowest in Canada

Saskatchewan’s labour market is one of Canada’s strongest.  In March 2015, Saskatchewan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.4 per cent, the lowest unemployment rate among the provinces for the eighteenth consecutive month.

According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan’s employment rate also increased 7,000 from the previous month.  Given that the consensus among economic forecasters is for continued growth in 2015, Saskatchewan’s current and future job prospects remain robust.

Saskatchewan’s Surgical Wait Times Among the Best in Canada

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report, Wait Times for Priority Procedures in Canada, 2015, shows Saskatchewan patients are benefitting from improved access to surgery, with surgical wait times in the province among the shortest in the country.

Since the launch of the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative, we have made tremendous improvement in patients’ access to surgery.  Close to 10,000 more surgeries were performed last year, compared to five years ago, and the number of patients waiting more than three months for surgery has dropped by 87 per cent over the past five years.

Farmland Ownership Review and Consultations Announced

The Government of Saskatchewan will hold further consultations and undertake a review of farmland ownership rules under The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act.  The original intent of the Act was to limit ownership of Saskatchewan farmland to Canadian residents and 100 per cent Canadian-owned corporations.  However, it did not explicitly define institutional investors such as pension plans, administrators of pension fund assets and trusts.

While the review is underway, regulations will be put in place to prohibit certain organizations from purchasing farmland in Saskatchewan.  Our goal is not to limit investment, but to ensure the long-term success of the industry and economy.  Saskatchewan farmland is a strategic asset that should be owned by Canadians for the benefit of Canadians.

Province Commits Funding for Social Services CBOs

Community-based organizations (CBOs) play a vital role in serving the most vulnerable citizens in our province.  As part of this year’s budget, the Ministry of Social Services will provide $263.3 million to CBOs that assist persons with disabilities, vulnerable men, women and children, people struggling with homelessness and other Saskatchewan people in need.

An additional $2.3 million in funding in the 2015-16 budget brings the overall general increases provided to CBOs for salary and operating costs to almost $50 million since 2007.  Our government is pleased to continue our valued partnerships with these organizations, helping them to support people in need in their communities to keep Saskatchewan strong.

Investing in Supports for Vulnerable Families

The Government of Saskatchewan is ensuring a better life for children and families by continuing to fund KidsFirst programs across the province.  The health and well-being of our children is a high priority for our government.  This program supports children and families who need help the most, to give them every chance for healthy and productive lives.

Through KidsFirst, parents build positive parenting skills as they learn about prenatal health, child development, literacy, nutrition, and how to improve the health and well-being of their children.  The program also connects parents with support services in their community such as child care and early learning programs, parent support groups, life skills classes, education opportunities, and specialized services including mental health and addictions counselling.