Report from the Legislature – March 05, 2020


The spring session of the legislature started this week with a focus on the upcoming provincial budget which will build on the strength of our people with investments in stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger economy.

The budget – to be released March 18th – will build on the Growth Plan our government introduced last fall by providing financial stability and investment in communities and infrastructure to support expanding our export-based economy.

The Supreme Court of Canada is set to hear Saskatchewan’s argument against the federal carbon tax later this month. Your Saskatchewan Party government is calling on Prime Minster Trudeau to pause the carbon tax in Saskatchewan, until the Supreme Court delivers its ruling. The Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled the carbon tax unconstitutional and we are confident the Supreme Court will rule the same.

On the economic front, our government recently delivered on a commitment to provide $10 million to support Estevan, Coronach, and nearby communities transitioning from coal-based industries to other economic opportunities. This situation was unfortunately imposed much earlier than planned by new federal regulations. Our government will work hard to ensure this part of our province can successfully move to cleaner energy sources and new business developments to remain prosperous and vibrant.

As we grow Saskatchewan over the next decade we have committed to building and upgrading another 10,000km of highway across our province.

The Government of Saskatchewan is upgrading Highway 5. This is a multi-year project, to be completed in three phases, which include passing lanes, widening of the shoulders, resurfacing, grade-line improvements, access consolidation, intersection realignment and treatments, as well as culvert replacements.

As part of our commitment to safety and growth, we also recently announced an agreement to improve 39km of Highway 21 and 9km of the Frenchman Butte Access, upgrading the surface to asphalt concrete from the current thin membrane surface.

As our government carries out the work of the legislative session, we continue to see quality of life improvements across our province.

Just recently, it was announced that thirty-six additional permanent acute care in-patient beds are opening at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. Investing in these additional acute care beds allows our health system to better meet the urgent care needs of our residents. The new acute care beds initiative will receive annual funding of almost $8 million to staff more than 50 full-time nursing and support positions.

Our government has also directed the Saskatchewan Health Authority to gather information to determine the feasibility of a privately built, owned and operated parkade at Regina General Hospital. We know that parking at Regina General Hospital has been an issue for a long time, and we are committed to finding a long-term solution. It’s important that staff and visitors feel safe around the facility and have convenient access to the building. Since parking is a support service, not a direct health care service, we believe it could be appropriately provided through the private sector.

New homes for people with different abilities recently opened in Saskatoon. In partnership with LutherCare Communities, our government is providing over $530,000 in annual funding to cover residential and day program supports for new residents.

LutherCare Communities provides services to people with intellectual disabilities, high medical needs and complex needs. The funding for this new home is part of the more than $5.5 million provided to LutherCare Communities each year.

Our government also opened a new affordable rental housing project for six families in need of a safe, comfortable home. The project, in partnership with the Governments of Canada, the City of Saskatoon and SaskNative Rentals Inc. is designed for independence and affordability and is fully accessible to individuals with varying mobility.

One of the first announcements of the new legislative session was that in-province ministerial travel and expense reports will be publicly disclosed on a quarterly basis. The bi-annual public disclosure of out-of-province ministerial travel and expenses, a measure we introduced to increase transparency, will also now be posted quarterly.

Our government values the hard-earned tax dollars of Saskatchewan people. While we have previously taken steps to decrease travel costs and increase transparency, we feel it is necessary to continue these efforts to ensure the public knows how tax dollars are being spent by government ministers as they travel across the province.

Increased transparency measures accompany a number of steps the government has taken to reduce ministerial travel expenses. These include a 53 per cent reduction in travel costs in 2018-2019 compared to the last year of the former government in 2006-2007, and the shutdown of Executive Air, the former government-owned air service, for an annual savings of $1 million.