Report from the Legislature – May 13, 2015

New Legislation to License User-Pay MRI Services

Reducing wait times and giving patients more choice over their own care decisions is a high priority for the people of Saskatchewan.  Wait times for many services are still too long and our government is committed to moving forward with new and innovative solutions to barriers that prevent the very best in patient access and satisfaction.  New legislation we’ve introduced will give patients the ability to choose to pay privately for a MRI scan in Saskatchewan.

This legislation will allow for the creation of regulations that require private clinics to provide a second scan at no charge to a patient on the public wait list every time a scan is provided to someone who chooses to pay for their own MRI.  It is similar to agreements currently in place that allow for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Worker’s Compensation Board.

The requirement for a private clinic to cover a second scan on the public wait list will increase fairness and access.  Private-pay MRI services in Saskatchewan could be offered in existing private MRI facilities as early as next spring.  This model will be evaluated after one year in order to ensure it is meeting the goals of improving access to safe, high quality care.

Strong Export Economy Delivering Results

Saskatchewan has the food, fuel and fertilizer the world needs and that’s why our government is working hard to expand trade with developing countries.  We’ve come a long way from the days when the former government believed our province had little to offer other parts of the world.

On May 8, Canpotex confirmed it had agreed to a potash supply contract with buyers in India for 1.3 million tonnes.  In addition to being Canada’s largest agriculture exporter to India, this builds on a new trade deal will also see Saskatchewan uranium help fuel growing global markets.

Since 2007, Saskatchewan exports to the U.S. are up 88%, exports to China – our second largest trading partner – have increased 233%, a growing relationship with India has boosted exports by 86% and exports to Japan and Indonesia are up 57% and 107% respectively.

Saskatchewan Leads the Nation with the Lowest Unemployment Rate

Saskatchewan’s labour market remains one of the strongest in Canada in spite of some challenges due to the low price of oil.  Our unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) was 4.3% in April 2015 which means Saskatchewan has had the lowest unemployment rate in the country for 19 consecutive months – a trend that sets us apart from other provinces.

Full-time employment in Saskatchewan was up 14,800 year-over-year with 7,700 more people working in the province.  One of the biggest challenges is finding qualified workers.  Our government is addressing this issue by investing in skills training to help meet the needs of employers and connect workers with opportunities to move into much-needed positions.

Non-Residential Building Permits Up 98.7% in March

The short-term pressures we’re seeing in some areas of the economy are not hindering growth in others.  Businesses continue to invest in new construction projects.  Non-residential building permits were up 98.7 per cent in March 2015 when compared to March of last year.

Looking at the building permit values, and the strength in non-residential construction, Saskatchewan will continue to lead economic growth in the nation.  We are fortunate to have this diversified economy that is helping to create opportunities, and create jobs.

Construction Season Puts Record Budget In Action

Saskatchewan’s highway crews and road builders are springing into action for the 2015-16 construction season.  A record $842 million budget means numerous construction sites are starting to pop up across the province.  This year’s budget includes $560 million allocated to major capital projects including twinning projects, passing lanes and overpasses.

The 27 per cent increase over last year’s budget is a clear indication that this government is committed to meeting the growing demands of our province and advancing our economy.  The projects planned for this construction season provide a better quality of life and a safer and more efficient road network for the people in the province. Highlights include:

  • Construction of the Regina Bypass;
  • Overpasses at Martensville and Warman;
  • Twinning Highway 39 from Estevan to Bienfait;
  • Pre-construction work on passing lanes on Highway 5 between Saskatoon and Humboldt;
  • Pre-construction work on Highway 6 and 39 between Regina and Estevan; and
  • 300 km of repaving work on the busiest highways, including Highways 1, 2, 6, 7, 11, and 16

150 km of rural highway upgrades, including:

  • Highway 27 from the junction of Highway 2 to Vonda;
  • Highway 43 from the junction of Highway 2 to Gravelbourg;
  • Highway 51 from west of Kerrobert to Major; and
  • Highway 58 from Lafleche to Gravelbourg.

41 bridge projects and many culvert projects

A weekly construction update will provide the travelling public with the latest construction information.  Please watch for orange zones and obey the black and white 60 km/hr signs in construction zones.  This will help keep everyone safe throughout the construction season.