Report from the Legislature – December 08, 2022

This year is closing on a very positive note; Saskatchewan’s population recently surpassed 1.2 million for the first time in history. When the Saskatchewan Party government was elected in 2007, the Offical Opposition said our population would never grow beyond one million. We believed Saskatchewan had the potential to grow with the support of a strong economy. This achievement puts us closer than ever to our Growth Plan goal of 1.4 million people by 2030. We are a province full of new jobs, opportunities, vibrant communities and a great quality of life.

Statistics Canada job numbers for November show our province added 11,800 jobs compared to last year, giving Saskatchewan the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country. Overall employment set a new record with 574,300 people employed. The off-reserve Indigenous unemployment rate decreased to 6.6 per cent, an all-time historical low.

Thanks to the growing economy, our government can invest in expanding programs and services that support families and communities. We are adding new healthcare professionals, expanding mental health and addictions services, and investing in new hospitals, long-term care facilities and schools. We are on track to balance the budget, with the Mid-Year Financial Report forecasting a $1.1 billion surplus. The increase is largely the result of high potash and oil prices, and higher revenues.

Our government is using higher-than-expected revenue to help people and businesses address higher costs due to inflation. The Four Point Affordability Plan is delivering a one-time Saskatchewan Affordability Tax Credit cheque of $500 to all adult residents who have filed a 2021 tax return in the province, exempted the PST on fitness and gym memberships, along with other recreational youth activities, and extended the small business tax rate reduction.

Due to interference from the federal government that threatens our growth potential, we have introduced the Saskatchewan First Act. This legislation clearly defines that Saskatchewan has the constitutional rights over our natural resources and economic future. We believe the people of Saskatchewan know the best steps to defend our economy, jobs and resources from the overreach of the federal government. Supported at Second Reading by the opposition NDP, this legislation moves to ensure Saskatchewan continues down a path of growth.

However, growth does come with unique challenges. Our government has recognized the pressure a growing population puts on the healthcare system, and we are moving to address those needs. Our Health Human Resource Action Plan has already seen success as we work to recruit, train, incentivize and retain health professionals across the province. On a recent recruitment mission to Manila, Philippines, nearly 130 conditional offers were made to qualified registered nurses and one continuing care aide ready to join us here in Saskatchewan. More interviews will be conducted thanks to strong contacts with potential candidates.

Saskatchewan is positioned to carry this success into the new year. We are ending 2022 with one of the strongest economies in the country, with several major private investments coming to fruition in the new year. These new businesses are poised to create thousands of jobs, inject further revenue into the province, and support government investment in programs and services residents need. That’s growth that works for everyone.