Report from the Legislature – December 21, 2023

Saskatchewan has seen incredible growth throughout 2023. Saskatchewan has built a strong foundation of a strong economy, strong communities and strong families.

Saskatchewan’s population is over 1.22 million people and growing faster than it has in more than a century. Our economy saw GDP growth of 6.0 per cent, ranking first in the nation. The province’s unemployment rate the second lowest in Canada, with an increase of 19,300 jobs compared to last year. Retail trade has increased by 3.0 per cent year-over-year as well.

A growing economy growth allows our government to invest in things that matter to Saskatchewan people. This year, our government invested a record $3.7 billion in capital like schools, hospitals, highways, municipal and Crown infrastructure.

Investments in major health projects across the province include the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital; hospitals in Moose Jaw, Weyburn and Prince Albert; long-term care facilities in 14 communities; and new urgent care centres in Regina and Saskatoon.

In health care, this year’s budget provided a record investment of $7.1 billion to strengthen our health care system and continue to attract and retain health care professionals. Since December 2022, 877 new nursing graduates have been hired. Over the past 24 months, 217 new physicians have been recruited to Saskatchewan. A record 47,748 surgeries were performed from April to September. The Urgent Care Centre in Regina is 85 per cent complete and will be operational in the summer of 2024.

Investments in education have continued to ensure that Saskatchewan students can get the best possible start. An additional $40 million was made to assist with enrolment growth and classroom complexity. The new Saskatchewan Distance Learning Corporation was opened and now has over 5,500 students.

Work continues on 60 new schools and 30 major school renovations across the province. New schools in Blaine Lake, as well as two elementary schools in Regina were opened, and ground was broken on the new joint-use school in north Regina.

A Provincial Approach to Homelessness will see 155 new supportive housing spaces, 120 new permanent emergency shelter spaces and 30 new complex needs emergency shelter spaces developed throughout the province. In addition, the new mental health and addictions strategy will create 500 new addictions treatment spaces.

In this year’s budget, Saskatchewan Income Support and Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability benefits increased by an average of 6 per cent. For seniors, the personal care home benefits have increased by 20 per cent and the Seniors’ Income Plan benefit increased 9 per cent. Community-based organizations received an increase of 3 per cent as well.

These investments are possible thanks to a strong economy and that’s why our government is committed to protecting it for future generations. Premier Scott Moe joined a group of industry leaders from Saskatchewan at COP28, where they told Saskatchewan’s story to the world. Discussions were focused on sustainability, innovations in environmental stewardship and how Saskatchewan has the food, fuel, fertilizer and critical minerals to supply a growing world.

Our government is focused on protecting Saskatchewan from a federal government that seems intent on shutting down key parts of our economy. This spring, our government passed the Saskatchewan First Act to clearly confirm autonomy and assert Saskatchewan’s exclusive legislative jurisdiction over natural resources and electrical generation.

Under the Saskatchewan First Act, our government established the Economic Assessment Tribunal to assess the financial impact of federal policies. The first referral to the tribunal was the federal Clean Electricity Regulations, and in the months ahead, the federal oil and gas cap and Federal Fuel Standard will also be assessed.

Our government recently announced SaskEnergy will stop collecting the carbon tax on natural gas for home heating and SaskPower will stop collecting it on electrical home heating. These decisions come in response to the federal government’s removal of the carbon tax from home heating oil earlier this fall.

These policies will help protect Saskatchewan families from the harmful impacts of the federal government’s unfair and unaffordable carbon tax. While we continue to call on the federal government to remove the carbon tax on everything for everyone, Saskatchewan now has measures in place to ensure affordability for families to heat their homes this winter.

Saskatchewan’s plan for electricity generation to 2035 and beyond was also announced this year. The plan commits to achieving net-zero by 2050 with an energy mix that ensures reliable base load power and affordable rates for customers and includes using existing natural gas plant assets to the end of life and working toward small modular reactors, while continuing to expand intermittent power sources, such as wind and solar. Our government’s plan will ensure that electrical generation in Saskatchewan is reliable, affordable, sustainable and achievable.

Together with Saskatchewan people, our government will continue building Saskatchewan and protecting all we have built. I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!