Report from the Legislature – March 10, 2022

This week marked the start of the spring sitting of the Saskatchewan Legislature. As we gathered to open the Assembly for the first time this year, Ukraine fights for their right to enjoy the same democratic process. Pins, flags and buttons with blue and yellow emblems could be spotted throughout the building this week as our hearts and minds remain focused on Ukraine.

Saskatchewan stands with our friends and family in Ukraine as they face an attack on their homes by Russia. A motion introduced by Premier Scott Moe was approved, calling for Russia to stop their unprovoked aggression towards neighbouring Ukraine.

Communities across the province have been coming together to show support through vigils, prayer events and protests against the violence. These events held in unison with thousands more around the globe are sending a message that the world will not tolerate this act of war.

We have made several commitments to help those who need assistance, including a $100,000 donation to support humanitarian efforts on the ground. SaskTel has waived long-distance and texting fees from Canada to Ukraine. We are working with post-secondary institutions to determine the impact on our international students. The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority has delisted Russian products from their distribution centre and removed them from retail stores.

And most importantly, we are committed to providing a safe place for those fleeing the brutal attacks. Around two million people have fled the country so far. To put that into perspective, the entire province of Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia would have to pack up what they could carry and leave. Europe will not be able to help all of those people alone. They need our assistance.

The Government of Saskatchewan has met with Ottawa to let the federal government know that we will accept an unlimited number of Ukrainians fleeing the violence. Priority will be given to Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee applications received from Ukraine.

Our government is working with community members to ensure support, programs and services are ready for when our friends arrive. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Saskatchewan will receive $335,000 in funding for dedicated community coordinators to provide information and assistance to individuals or groups who want to help our new neighbours. They will assist Ukrainians with settlement and language services, along with potential employment opportunities.

Saskatchewan is ready, willing and able to help in this global effort to stand against tyranny.

As the Spring Sitting progresses, our government will outline plans for 2022 and beyond. Plans that will show the world that Saskatchewan has the people, resources and drive to lead the nation. Great progress has been made in recent months, and we will keep on track to ensure that hard work will benefit everyone who calls Saskatchewan home.

The forestry sector is an example of the work that goes on over the course of several months and, in some cases, years. Sales in 2021 increased 60 per cent over 2020, reaching an all-time high of $1.8 billion. We are on track to achieve our goals of doubling forestry growth by 2030 and substantially increasing the value of our exports.

These gains are just the beginning, as we anticipate over 2,600 more jobs in the sector thanks to timber allocations announced last fall for four major projects. These projects include an oriented strand board mill for Prince Albert, expansion of the Carrot River sawmill, upgrades to increase lumber production at the Big River sawmill, and the re-opening of the Prince Albert pulp mill totalling nearly $1 billion in capital investment.

And we were pleased to welcome the newly elected MLA for Athabasca, Jim Lemaigre to the Legislature this week. Jim was chosen by the people of Athabasca in a by-election last month. This will be the first time the constituency has been represented on the government side of the Assembly since 2007. It’s great to have such a strong voice for northern Saskatchewan on our team.