Report from the Legislature – July 1, 2015

More Physicians Begin Practising in Saskatchewan

Fifteen new doctors are practising in Saskatchewan, thanks to the most recent results of the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA) program. SIPPA is a made-in-Saskatchewan program that assesses International Medical Graduates (IMGs) on their medical education and clinical ability before allowing them to practise medicine in the province.

We welcome these new doctors and their families to our growing province.  Since the SIPPA program began in 2011, close to 180 new family physicians have completed the assessment and are currently practising in the province. SIPPA is one of many ways we are working to ensure Saskatchewan residents are receiving better access to physician care.

In addition to attracting IMGs, the retention rate of family medicine grads trained at the University of Saskatchewan has jumped by 17 per cent over the past two years – from 58 per cent to 75 per cent.  Thanks to ongoing retention and recruitment efforts, there are now more than 400 more doctors practising in the province than there were eight years ago.

Express Entry for Skilled Workers

Immigration is an integral part of our province’s growth.  Since 2007, 62,000 immigrants have settled in 370 communities.  Of those who came in 2014, about 74 per cent entered through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP).  With one of the most comprehensive programs in the country, Saskatchewan has attracted thousands of qualified individuals and their families to fill jobs which can’t be filled by Saskatchewan or Canadian residents.

Immigrants applying for permanent residence can now apply online to the new Saskatchewan Express Entry category announced earlier this year.  This category will add 775 additional nominees and will mean skilled workers immigrate faster and enter workplaces sooner.  Other benefits include reducing application backlogs, and moving from a first-come-first-serve processing basis to nominating the most qualified and experienced individuals to contribute to our strong, diversified economy.  The Saskatchewan Express Entry is targeted at those who have post-secondary education and training in occupations that are in demand.

Disability Strategy Report Presented to Government

Shane is a heavy-duty mechanic who works for the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure in Yorkton.  He is also blind.  The shop he works in is organized so he knows where to find his tools, and his co-workers are there to help if he needs them.  This is an example of putting people before systems, the over-arching theme of a new Disability Strategy entitled People Before Systems: Transforming the Experience of Disability in Saskatchewan.

Our government appreciates the hard work and commitment of the Citizen Consultation Team on gathering feedback from the disability community. It is the voice of those living with disabilities that has informed this Strategy for our province.  While the Strategy is being led by Government, it will require a collective effort to realize change.  We all have a role to play in making Saskatchewan the best place in Canada to live for people with disabilities.

We look forward to implementing meaningful changes that positively impact those living with disabilities across Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan Finishes 2014-15 With $62 Million Surplus

The Government of Saskatchewan hit its budget targets in 2014-15, finishing with a surplus of $62 million, down just $9 million from budget projections.  Although revenue from oil was less than anticipated, revenue from potash and other sectors – combined with the careful management of expense – helped keep our province on the path of steady growth.

Oil revenue was $1.28 billion, down $285 million from budget projections.  However, potash revenue was $546 million, up $149 million compared to budget.  The government provided $107.7 million in unanticipated disaster assistance in 2014-15, largely related to flooding.  That additional spending was offset by controlling operating spending in other areas.

The fact we were able to conclude such a challenging year on budget and with a modest surplus demonstrates, once again, the resilience of the Saskatchewan economy.  Within a balanced budget, we continue to be able to help Saskatchewan people who need it most.  Sound financial management is a key part of our plan to keep Saskatchewan strong.