Report from the Legislature – October 28, 2021

This week saw the new session of the Saskatchewan Legislature open with the Speech from the Throne, outlining our goals for this session and for the years ahead. As we manage our way through the pandemic, we are focused on building a better Saskatchewan – a stronger, safer, healthier, better educated and more independent Saskatchewan.


The past year has been challenging; however, the strength and resilience of the people of Saskatchewan is evident for all to see.


Our government continues critical investments in infrastructure throughout the province to ensure a strong economy and a stronger Saskatchewan. This year’s drought showed the need for reliable access to water throughout the province. We will continue to invest in the major irrigation Project at Lake Diefenbaker which will increase irrigation opportunities, help diversify crop production, attract more value-added processing, and improve water security for municipalities and Saskatchewan industries.


The government will also continue to invest in repairing and expanding the power distribution infrastructure, create new wind and solar power facilities and move forward with the development of small modular nuclear reactor technology.


To further strengthen the Indigenous business sector, we will create new opportunities with $75 million in financing to create the Saskatchewan Indigenous Investment Finance Corporation for those interested in making investments in resource development projects.


A strong Saskatchewan is a safe Saskatchewan. In this Throne Speech, we see new initiatives and support for police and public safety across the province. Criminologist Daniel Nagin has said, the certainty of being caught committing a crime is a vastly more powerful deterrent than the punishment. To that end, our government wants to provide criminals with certainty that you will be caught if you commit a crime. We will add 60 new police positions and another 11 civilian positions to support a new law enforcement initiative and create a new Provincial Police Protective Service unit.


Too frequently in Saskatchewan, dangerous criminals with multiple active warrants are not brought to justice until they are caught committing more crimes. To address this, we will create new initiatives to address public concerns, such as the new Warrant Enforcement and Suppression Team and the new Crime Reduction Teams for Meadow Lake, La Ronge, Lloydminster and Moose Jaw. Funding will also be dedicated to hiring more enforcement positions for police and the Saskatchewan Trafficking Response Team. During this session, we will introduce and update legislation focused on ensuring public safety throughout the province.


Our government is focused on creating a healthier Saskatchewan by continuing our work to vaccinate as many people as possible against COVID-19 while investing in essential health care services. Right now, more than 85 per cent of eligible Saskatchewan residents have received the first dose of the vaccine and over 75 per cent are fully vaccinated.


Our government will continue working on projects like the Prince Albert and Weyburn hospitals, long-term care facilities in Grenfell and La Ronge, and replacement long-term care facilities in Watson and Estevan. Engineering work is currently underway on new urgent care centres for Saskatoon and Regina, which will help to reduce wait times in the ER and 600 new long-term beds for Regina.


We will continue to invest in mental health and addiction services. Already, we are seeing the work done in Estevan through the new treatment centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital featuring 30 new addictions treatment beds. Our continued efforts will include more inpatient addiction treatment beds throughout the province, and look for partnerships with third-party providers with the goal of adding another 150 treatment spaces over the next three years. Residents are already seeing the work that has been done in Estevan through the opening of a new treatment centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital featuring 30 new addictions treatment beds.


The past 20 months have been challenging for Saskatchewan’s educational system and our families; thank you to our dedicated teachers, teacher’s assistance, administrators, and support staff. We are focused on creating a better educated Saskatchewan by investing and supporting children throughout the province. Work continues on 16 school projects as part of our ambitious capital plan to provide students with the education they deserve. We will also create a new learning policy to ensure students receive the best education possible if they study online.


Our government is also planning to create a new funding pool to enhance class support for teachers working with the greatest number of students, including new funding to hire education assistants. We have worked with the federal government to reduce childcare costs to an average of $10 a day by 2025-26 and create thousands of new childcare spaces.  We will also increase wages for childcare workers by up to $3 per hour.


Our government is determined to build a stronger, more independent Saskatchewan within Canada. In the coming months, our government will consider other measures to build provincial autonomy, including the possibility of taking back the administration of our corporate income tax system. We will continue to work with the federal government where we can; however, concerns about responsive policing and the unfairness of the equalization formula have been raised throughout the province in recent years.


We have moved on appointing our first-ever provincial Chief Firearms Officer, bringing a Saskatchewan perspective to the ministration of the federal Firearms Act.


This decade has not started the way anyone expected; Saskatchewan people have met the challenges with perseverance, courage, faith, and compassion. By working together, we will build a better Saskatchewan.