Report from the Legislature – September 22, 2016

Premier Promoting Province’s Food and Energy Strengths in Asia

I am proud to serve in a government that understands the need to keep our economy strong by opening up export markets and encouraging growth. Saskatchewan has the food, fuel and fertilizer the world needs and that includes the growing Asian market. This is why we’re leading a trade mission to South Korea and China to expand our relationship and explore new trade opportunities.

Since we began our export market diversification efforts, including trade missions, we have seen Saskatchewan exports to China grow by 129 per cent and exports to India by 155 per cent. Saskatchewan innovation and hard work is helping to feed and fuel the world and we will continue to look for opportunities to diversify our export market and keep our economy strong.

Approximately 114,000 Saskatchewan jobs are reliant on exports which means 1 out of every 5 jobs in the province are directly tied to our strong export sectors. Saskatchewan exports were valued at over $35 billion last year.

Saskatchewan has seen remarkable growth in agriculture and agri-food exports with a record $15.3 billion in 2015. That is why our government supports trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

A new federal government study projects that Canada would generate more than $4 billion in long-term GDP gains if it were to join the TPP but stands to take an even bigger economic hit if it were to opt out.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership represents the largest trading area in the world, and untold potential for Saskatchewan producers. In the last decade, our province has exported over $210 billion worth of goods to the 800 million consumers in TPP nations.

Over 75 per cent of all India’s lentil imports are from Saskatchewan. We are the largest producer and exporter of lentils in the world, and thanks to increased trade these numbers only continue to rise.

On top of agricultural products, Saskatchewan is a major producer of oil & gas, potash, minerals & mining, uranium, and a growing manufacturing industry.  All of these sectors of our economy will be increasingly important not only to our economy here but to a growing world.

Self-Directed Funding Demonstration Project a Success

We need to ensure that individuals experiencing intellectual disabilities are valued, supported and included, and have opportunities and choices in all aspects of life. In the coming year, our government will implement a self-directed funding (SDF) model for individuals who experience intellectual disabilities to give them greater choice over their life decisions.

Currently, funding to clients goes through community-based organizations, but under SDF, we are providing a second option whereby funds go directly to the individual which allows them and their support team to decide which supports and services they access depending on their own unique needs and aspirations.

SDF aligns with the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy by providing more effective supports and services, as well as a greater sense of dignity in gaining more independence. The model will be implemented province-wide beginning April 1, 2017. Interested individuals and families can talk to their Community Living Service Delivery worker for more information.

Changes Coming for Cottage Wineries and Micro Distilleries

Saskatchewan’s craft alcohol industry has grown from one cottage winery in 2001 to eight cottage wineries and eight micro distilleries today. Consumers are recognizing the quality of Saskatchewan-made wine and spirits and our government is eliminating regulatory barriers to growth that will help ensure this industry continues to grow and create economic opportunities.

These changes include immediately increasing production thresholds for all craft manufacturers in the province and introducing a graduated markup structure based on annual production.  A number of regulatory barriers are also being reduced, including allowing craft manufacturers the ability to direct deliver their products to Saskatchewan retailers.

Changes related to the province’s craft beer industry are expected later this fall.

Community Rink Affordability Grant Returns For Fifth Year

Our government believes in supporting community ice surfaces across Saskatchewan and we are proud to offer the Community Rink Affordability Grant for a fifth year by committing $1.7 million in 2016.  Since launching in 2012, the four year granted total has surpassed $6.42 million.

The Community Rink Affordability Grant provides funding to Saskatchewan’s community-owned indoor skating and curling rinks. Communities, schools, non-profits and First Nations are eligible to apply to the program. Successful applicants receive an annual grant of $2,500 per indoor ice surface. The grant may be used to offset the cost of rink operations and minor capital upgrades.

Recreation is important and this grant helps ensure that sports and recreation continue to contribute to the quality of life we enjoy in Saskatchewan. In 2015-16, the Community Rink Affordability Grant invested in 373 communities, supporting 633 ice surfaces across the province.

Each year, the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association (SPRA) administers and delivers the program.  Applications are being accepted until Friday, December 16, 2016.