Report from the Legislature – August 12, 2021

Saskatchewan has seen its share of challenges, and the extreme drought conditions we are currently experiencing have been no exception. Pastures and crops have been severely affected while many dugouts are dry or have poor water quality due to a lack of spring runoff and little rainfall, combined with hot, dry weather throughout the summer.

Our government is helping producers retain their breeding herd with $119 million in direct support under the AgriRecovery program. This program is part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership agreement, with funding shared on a 60-40 federal-provincial basis.

Full federal participation would deliver $200 per head to cattle producers, and we look forward to working with the federal government to ensure producers receive the support they need. The amount of the per head payment will be finalized pending federal agreement.

The Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan have already provided an increase to the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage, from 50 per cent to 75 per cent, so producers can access a larger portion of their final AgriStability benefit early.

In addition, Saskatchewan has announced temporary increases in the maximum rebates for livestock producers under the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program for dugouts, wells and pipelines for agricultural use, from $50,000 to $150,000.

Saskatchewan also introduced changes to the Crop Insurance Program to divert low-yielding crops to feed use.

I encourage crop producers to consider how these changes could work for their operation or enable them to help a neighbour. Across the province there is a need for feed and straw this winter and, if you have feed, many websites and social media groups can connect you with livestock producers who are in need.

The livestock sector is a vital part of our agriculture industry, and a significant contributor to our provincial economy. We know that producers are struggling and that is why we are taking action to support them during a challenging year.

The Farm Stress Line ā€“ a confidential service, available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week ā€“ is available for support should producers need it. The toll-free number is 1-800-667-4442.

If you are not yet partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19, immunizations are continuing through walk-in and pop-up clinics at public venues across the province, as well as through participating pharmacies by appointment. Appointments booked online will continue for some smaller centres where pharmacy immunization is unavailable.

All information related to vaccines and clinics will be available at saskatchewan.ca/COVID19-vaccine or through the Saskatchewan Health Authority social media channels.

 

Vaccination and breakthrough data demonstrates that it is unvaccinated people who are in-hospital and facing the most severe COVID-19 illness and death.

Vaccination has proven to be the best protection against COVID-19 transmission and illness. While proof of vaccination is not required by the Government of Saskatchewan for events or venues, we know that there are some locations within Canada that are requesting that documentation. Residents who would like a record of their COVID-19 vaccinations now have access to a new one-page printable vaccination record from their MySaskHealthRecord account. This includes date and location of vaccination and brand of vaccine administered.

If you do not have a MySaskHealthRecord account, you can visit eHealth Saskatchewan at  www.ehealthsask.ca/MySaskHealthRecord/MySaskHealthRecord/ to set one up.

On the topic of COVID-19, our appreciation goes out to our teachers, education support staff and families whose hard work and creativity supported students throughout the pandemic the past year.

The Government of Saskatchewan has developed a one-year Interim Provincial Education Plan to support schools as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. Nearly $21 million in additional funding will be provided to school divisions with a focus on three key priorities:

  • Additional reading supports for grade 1 to 5 students. Reading data will be collected from students in grades 1 to 5. This will allow educational professionals to create specialized reading plans where needed to meet students at their individual skill levels.
  • Supportive learning opportunities for students whose education may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. High school students will be able to obtain credits through a variety of educational avenues, such as classes offered out of grade order, special project credits and online classes.
  • Mental health supports for students and staff as they return from a challenging year. This includes nearly $600,000, provided in the 2021-22 Budget, to support initiatives related to bullying prevention and promotion of positive mental health and student safety. It also encompasses nearly $500,000 committed by the Government of Saskatchewan for Mental Health First Aid training to school divisions.

Using these three priorities as a guide, school divisions and participating First Nations education authorities will build their own plans to meet the unique needs of their students and schools.

A reminder for registered, non-profit veteran service clubs in Saskatchewan: the second intake of applications for the Saskatchewan Veteran Service Club Support Program are being accepted until August 31, 2021. Clubs are eligible to apply for grants up to $25,000.

Iā€™m proud to say that this program provides grants for facility projects, upgrades, renovations or repairs, access to programming, meetings, and events. Grant money can also be used toward special events, programs and activities that engage the public and advance the work of veteran service organizations. The first intake supported 39 veteran service clubs around Saskatchewan with over $634,000 in support already delivered.

More information about the program, guidelines, applications, and eligibility are available through the Royal Canadian Legion Saskatchewan Command at
306-525-8739 or admin@sasklegion.ca.