Report from the Legislature – September 01, 2022

A strong economy and higher resource prices have significantly improved Saskatchewan’s financial outlook. The recently released first-quarter economic update shows an expected surplus of $1.04 billion for 2022-23 fiscal year. This means our economy is expected to lead the country in economic growth and job creation. This will build on the nearly 24 thousand new jobs created in the first seven months of 2022.

While this economic news has helped our financial outlook, we also know that higher resource prices have made the cost of living higher across Canada. To help with this, our government has launched a four-point Affordability Plan using the higher resource revenues to help people address rising costs due to inflation, while reducing the province’s debt.

To begin, our government is sending Saskatchewan residents who are 18 years of age or over a Saskatchewan Affordability Tax Credit payment. Those who have filed a 2021 tax return as a resident of Saskatchewan will receive a $500 Saskatchewan Affordability Tax Credit cheque this fall.

We are removing fitness and gym memberships and some recreational activities from the planned October PST changes on admissions, entertainment and recreation.

We are also extending the small business tax rate reduction, at 0 per cent retroactive to July 1, 2022 and delaying the restoration of the rate to 2.0 per cent until July 1, 2024. This measure will save small businesses over $93 million during the next three years, on average, $3,000 for each small business. This will help the approximately 31,000 small businesses in Saskatchewan continue to recover from the pandemic.

Lastly, we are retiring up to $1 billion in operating debt, saving an estimated $49 million in interest costs and allowing us to invest more right here at home. Helping Saskatchewan people through a time of higher costs, while retiring debt strikes the right financial balance and helps our province move forward. That’s growth that works for everyone.

During this school year, work will take place to expand the Dakota language curriculum available in high schools.  The Dakota curricula will join the other provincial secondary level Indigenous languages curricula already available, including NēhiyawēwinDeneNakawe; Michif and Nakoda.  This new curriculum supports the preservation and growth of First Nations and Métis languages in Saskatchewan.

Our government is expanding the Mental Health Capacity Building initiative this fall, following a successful pilot project. This expansion will bring the initiative to 10 schools throughout the province. The five schools selected for the program’s expansion are: Churchill Community High School in La Ronge, Prince Albert Collegiate Institute in Prince Albert, St. John Community School in Prince Albert, Weyburn Comprehensive High School in Weyburn, and Dr. Brass School in Yorkton.

They join the five schools that were pilot sites for the initiative: Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School in Regina; Hector Thiboutot School in Sandy Bay; North Battleford Comprehensive High School and John Paul II Collegiate in North Battleford; and Greenall High School in Balgonie. These schools serve as resource hubs, giving students access to a range of mental health promotion and programming through collaboration between schools, communities and health care providers. Delivering additional mental health support in our schools is essential to a positive learning environment for our youth.

Our government is also moving ahead on health services needed throughout our province. In Prince Albert, a modified Request for Proposals has begun for the expansion and redevelopment of the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital.  This project involves constructing a new multi-level acute care tower, replacing the adult mental health space, and renovating the existing building. With a growing population in Prince Albert and Northern Saskatchewan, increased capacity will allow more patients to stay close to home while receiving the care they need.

The NorthWest Community Lodge is now open in Meadow Lake. This new long-term care home will welcome up to 72 residents once fully operational, with individual rooms and relaxing common spaces with plenty of natural light.

In Grenfell, work continues on the new long-term care home. Our government has issued a Request for Qualifications to design and construct the 33-bed facility. This new home will include private rooms with bathrooms, two spa tub rooms, a commercial kitchen, common living and dining spaces and administrative spaces. Residents of the Grenfell Pioneer Home will be offered the first opportunity to move into the new home once it is complete.

The future is bright for Saskatchewan. Your government is working to maintain our strong economy while providing the services and programs you need and expect. If you have any questions, comments or need assistance with government programming, please contact your local MLA office.