Report from the Legislature – September 19, 2019

Saskatchewan’s economy is strong and more people are working in the province than ever before, despite economic headwinds. August marked the 13th consecutive month of job growth in Saskatchewan with 13,000 new jobs year-over-year. Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate was the third lowest in the country at 5.1 per cent.

Fast and reliable access to today’s digital economy contributes to strong communities. Better wireless service, particularly in rural areas, is a priority of the Government of Saskatchewan. Rural residents require access to fast and reliable services that are on par with urban areas, and SaskTel is working to fill in coverage gaps where they exist.

As part of our government’s Wireless Saskatchewan initiative, SaskTel has been able to add 15 new macro towers, providing better coverage in places like busy provincial parks, along major highways, and in areas with little to no cellular coverage. These new macro towers are in addition to the previously announced 103 small cell sites.

Since 2010, SaskTel has completed more than 3,200 initiatives to enhance its wireless network that now boasts more than 800 cell sites across the province. SaskTel will continue to evaluate further expansion to better serve Saskatchewan.

The new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital (JPCH) in Saskatoon is a spectacular, state-of-the-art facility that will soon see Saskatchewan children and expectant mothers receive exceptional health care closer to home.

Earlier this month, representatives from the provincial government, Saskatchewan Health Authority and the JPCH Foundation gathered with donors and community members to celebrate its completion, and the fact that Saskatchewan is no longer one of two provinces in Canada without a dedicated maternal and children’s hospital.

This brand-new 176-bed facility puts Saskatchewan at the forefront of research and innovation, provides hope and healing, and marks culmination of a decade’s worth of hard work and determination that started with a simple vision: providing world-class health care for children and families for generations.

JPCH will offer neonatal intensive care, pediatric intensive care, general pediatrics, pediatric emergency and ambulatory services. Maternal services will include labour and delivery, antepartum and postpartum care. Almost 60 pediatric specialists, sub-specialists and surgeons will be working in more than 20 specialties.

This year’s budget provides $9.6 million to finalize information technology needs and an additional $23 million to support operations when the hospital opens later this month. The total capital cost for the hospital is $285.9 million. The province provided about $257 million in capital costs, while the JPCH Foundation and donor contributions totalled about $75 million for capital costs, hospital equipment and furniture.

The words thank you never seem enough to adequately express our gratitude for thousands of individuals and hundreds of community groups who have contributed to the hospital project in some way. They have hosted every kind of fundraiser imaginable and in doing so, displayed the very best of what our province has to offer.

I am pleased to see that the tireless efforts of volunteers, donors, community members, the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation, Brynn Boback-Lane, Jim Pattison, and countless others all came together to make the dream of the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital a reality.

The Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital will officially open to patients on September 29, when all pediatric and maternal inpatients will move in from Royal University Hospital and new admissions will be accepted.

Thank you, Saskatchewan for supporting the work of the JPCH Foundation and for providing a home for hope.