Report from the Legislature – April 20, 2017

There are many areas of Saskatchewan’s already diverse economy that are strong and getting stronger.  For example, new numbers show manufacturing sales in Saskatchewan are up nearly 23% over last year.  Building permits are up 10%, housing starts are up 50%, and Saskatchewan’s population continues to grow at a pace our province hasn’t seen in 90 years.

Saskatchewan had Canada’s best job creation record in February, followed by another strong month in March.  Our retail sales and new vehicle sales growth is second-best in the country with our capital investment growth third best in all of Canada.  The oil industry is even showing signs of recovery.  New well drilling doubled in the first quarter of this year compared with last year.

As we work to meet the challenge of persistently low commodity prices, our economy is growing stronger.  You can learn more about our three-year plan to balance the budget, maintain the Saskatchewan Advantage and keep our economy strong at

Saskatchewan has long championed a Canadian market that is open and transparent and which allows our businesses to compete fairly and freely across the country.  The new Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) is going to level the playing field for Saskatchewan.

The agreement replaces the existing Agreement on Internal Trade, which has been in place since 1995.  The new agreement establishes free trade rules that apply across the Canadian economy, unlike the old agreement which covered only 11 sectors of the economy.

Taking effect July 1st, the new CFTA will greatly reduce barriers to trade, investment and worker mobility, benefiting businesses, workers and consumers by expanding procurement opportunities in other parts of the country and by ensuring labour mobility for our workers.

While there is still some more work to do in areas like alcoholic beverages and financial services, we have reached a balanced agreement that serves us well by cutting red tape and barriers to trade.  The result will be more opportunities for Saskatchewan’s economy to diversify and grow.

We want to ensure that victims of violent crime and their family members receive the supports they need.  That is why our government has introduced and passed legislation to support individuals fleeing interpersonal violence and families of victims of crime.

Changes to The Victims of Interpersonal Violence Act and The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 allow a tenant to end a fixed-term rental agreement with 28 days’ notice if they or their family members are being abused by another resident or former resident.

The fact that an individual has signed, for example, a year-long lease will no longer factor into their decision to leave a violent domestic situation.

Amendments to The Victims of Crime Act, 1995 also expand compensation for counselling costs.

Previously, the legislation limited compensation for counselling to the spouse or children of an adult victim and the parent or sibling of a child victim.  It now includes parents, siblings, and adult children of adult victims who have died as a result of violent crime.

Recognizing that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of domestic violence in Canada, we will continue to explore options to help address this serious issue.

Our government has also introduced and passed legislation improving safety for tow truck operators.  The Traffic Safety (Tow Trucks) Amendment Act, 2017 allows for blue lights to be used in conjunction with amber lights on tow trucks.

Passed with unanimous support the day it was introduced, the legislation comes after tow truck operator Courtney Schaefer was killed in a March 7, 2017 collision along the roadside in the Gerald area during blizzard conditions.

Saskatchewan is the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce a two-colour lighting combination for tow trucks.  The addition of blue lights isn’t mandatory but adding them will increase visibility, heighten awareness and increase safety.

Tow truck operators will be able to install blue lights once the bill receives royal assent and is proclaimed later this spring.  SGI will be undertaking public awareness efforts to educate the public about blue lights on tow trucks.

It’s the law to slow to 60 km/h when passing tow trucks and any emergency vehicles on the highway when flashing lights are engaged.