Report from the Legislature – June 09, 2016

Saskatchewan people can expect to see work on highway projects in virtually every corner of the province.

This year’s plan includes major projects in addition to much-needed repairs to many of our rural highways that will keep our growing economy strong.

Beyond benefiting economic activity and employment, our government’s Highways 2020 Plan will see a surge in funding used to make our roads safer.

Over the next three years, we will deliver a $70 million surge to fix and repair more roads.  $30 million of that total will be invested this year to improve 460 kilometres of highway.  Highways to be improved include:

  • Highway 924 from Highway 55 to Dore Lake
  • Highway 26 South of Turtleford
  • Highways 376, 16 and 340 near Hafford, Radisson and Asquith
  • Highway 11 north of Davidson
  • Highways 220 and 322 in the Silton area
  • Highway 1 near Belle Plaine and east of Gull Lake
  • Highway 45 south of Outlook
  • Highway 58 south of Chaplin to Shamrock
  • Highway 43 east of Vanguard
  • Highway 13 east of Assiniboia
  • Highway 15 east of Goodeve to east of Ituna
  • Highway 16 near Maymont
  • Highway 19 north of Hodgeville
  • Highway 21 south of Highway 3
  • Highway 22 west of Highway 35
  • Highway 48 from Highway 8 to east of Wawota

For the first time in history, Saskatchewan’s Highways and Infrastructure Budget tops $1 billion.  More than 1,300 km of provincial highways will see repairs or upgrades this year.  Highlights include:

  • Continuing work on major projects like the Regina Bypass and twinning on Highways 7 and 16 near Saskatoon and Highway 39 between Estevan and Bienfait;
  • Starting construction on new overpasses at Warman and Martensville;
  • Upgrading more than 100 km of rural highways to improve safety and access, including Highway 322 north of Silton and Highway 354 near Dilke; and
  • 200 km of repaving.

The Regina Bypass is the largest transportation project in Saskatchewan history.  Once complete, it will allow motorists to safely commute to their destinations on Highway 1 east of Regina and will reduce congestion in and around the city.  The Bypass will also provide important linkages to the national highway system to help producers and manufacturers get their goods to market.

The Regina Bypass includes:

  • 12 overpasses;
  • 40 kilometres of new four-lane highway;
  • 20 kilometres of resurfaced four-lane highway;
  • 55 kilometres of new service roads; and
  • Twinning of approximately five kilometres of Highway 6.

Construction remains on time and on budget in all areas of the Bypass project.  In fact, earlier this week we learned that the Pilot Butte overpass will be completed one year ahead of schedule.

Our track record when it comes to highways is clear.  Our government has invested more than $6.3 billion, including funding in this budget, to improve more than 11,000 km of roads and highways.

Liquor Modernization Act Introduced

The Government of Saskatchewan has introduced The Liquor Retail Modernization Act, 2016 to help create a level playing field for all liquor retailers in the province.  Currently, Saskatchewan’s retail liquor system is a complicated mix of discounts and exemptions that apply to some retailers but not to others.

The focus of the amendments is the creation of a single permit for all businesses that retail beverage alcohol in the province. The new retail store permit will apply to existing SLGA stores, rural franchises, private liquor stores and off-sale outlets as well as new operators entering the market.

Late last year, government announced changes that will see an expanded private liquor retail system in Saskatchewan. New retail opportunities will be awarded through a competitive Request for Proposal process to be announced in the coming weeks.  Once implemented, this new liquor retail system will offer Saskatchewan consumers more choice, convenience and competitive pricing.

Patient Choice Medical Imaging Act Introduced to Allow Private CT Scans

From the end of March 31, 2015 to February 29, 2016, the number of patients waiting for CT services in Saskatchewan increased from 2,954 to 3,823.  Between December 2015 and February 2016, the average wait time for a non-urgent CT scan was 119 days province-wide.

The Government of Saskatchewan has introduced The Patient Choice Medical Imaging Act, which will give residents the option to privately pay for a CT scan.  This means patients will soon have more choice in how they receive diagnostics, while at the same time increasing public capacity and reducing wait times to CT services.

Following passage of the Act and the establishment of regulations, private-pay CT services will be offered in the same way as private-pay MRI services.  Licensed facilities that conduct a privately paid CT scan will be required to provide a second scan of similar complexity to an individual on the public wait list, at no cost to that individual or the health system.

There are two licensed facilities in Regina that have been providing private-pay MRI services since it was launched on February 29, 2016.  During the first two months, 258 patients received a private MRI scan (77 patients paid for a scan, and organizations, such as the Saskatchewan Roughriders or Workers’ Compensation Board, have purchased 181 scans).  Under the “two for one” option, 258 patients from the public system will also receive an MRI scan at no additional cost.

A physician referral will still be required to obtain a CT scan.