Report from the Legislature – January 05, 2017

Government Announces Move to Single Provincial Health Authority

Our government has accepted all of the recommendations of the Saskatchewan Advisory Panel on Health System Structure, and announced this week that the province will consolidate the 12 existing Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) into one single Provincial Health Authority.

Our government is committed to providing high quality health services across Saskatchewan and our goal is better coordination between the health services provided in different parts of the province.  This change will also reduce administration and duplication across the health system.

The Advisory Panel has recommended the appointment of a single Board of Directors to govern the new Authority as well as system-wide improvements that include consolidation of administrative support functions, some clinical services, and the planning, dispatch and delivery of EMS.

A comprehensive plan is being developed that will work through critical implementation details, including legislation, governance, financial and change management considerations.  While there is no firm timeline for the establishment of the new Authority, it is anticipated to occur in Fall 2017.

Saskatchewan Taxpayers Will Save Through Indexation

Our government is committed to keeping Saskatchewan’s tax system fair and competitive, and yearly indexation is part of an array of measures aimed at accomplishing just that.  All Saskatchewan income tax brackets and tax credit amounts will once again be indexed in 2017.

This means individual taxpayers now pay no Saskatchewan income tax on their first $19,490 of income while a family of four pays no Saskatchewan income tax on their first $50,495 of income.  This is the highest tax-free income threshold for a family of four in Canada.

With these annual savings, combined with the income tax cuts we introduced in 2008, that means:

  • A single person with a $25,000 annual income saves almost $1,000 each year;
  • A family of four with $50,000 combined income saves $2,694 each year; and
  • A family of four with $75,000 combined income saves $2,484 each year.

Various reductions to personal income taxes will save Saskatchewan people more than $490 million in 2017, and have resulted in about 112,000 low-income residents being removed from the income tax rolls entirely.  We will continue working to protect your pocketbook and keep taxes low.

Tougher Impaired and Distracted Driving Laws Now In Effect

Tougher impaired driving legislation was passed in the fall, with strengthened laws taking effect January 1, 2017.

  • Experienced drivers who are charged for the first time with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .04 will have their vehicle seized for three days;
  • There will be zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol for all drivers 21 and under and all new drivers; and
  • Ignition interlock laws will be the strongest in Canada, with mandatory ignition interlock for drivers who register a BAC of .16 or greater or refuse to provide a breath sample (1st offence – two years; 2nd offence – five years; 3rd and subsequent offence – 10 years).

To help prevent distracted driving, the cellphone law has expanded from “using” a cellphone while driving to “holding, viewing, using or manipulating” a cellphone while driving.

The following applies under both the current and new cellphone law:

  • All drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cellphones.
  • Experienced drivers can use hands-free devices, but new drivers can’t.
  • If the cellphone is mounted on the dash, clipped to the visor or in a cradle, it’s considered hands-free and it’s OK for an experienced driver to use it, provided they can access the phone with one touch of a button or voice commands.

You can visit SGI’s website at for more information about these changes.