Released on December 7, 2023
Multiple Government Priorities Receive Unanimous Support of Assembly
Today marks the conclusion of the Fall Sitting of the Fourth Session of the Twenty-Ninth Legislature, and the Government of Saskatchewan is highlighting its recent efforts to build and protect Saskatchewan's families, economy, industries and interests.
"Saskatchewan is growing at its fastest pace in more than a century, and our government is here to build and protect our province for generations to come," Deputy Premier Donna Harpauer said on behalf of Premier Scott Moe. "With nation-leading economic growth, strong job creation and maintaining our reputation as the most affordable place to live in Canada, Saskatchewan is showing no signs of slowing down."
During this sitting, the Assembly unanimously passed several pieces of legislation including:
- Bill 151: The SaskEnergy (Carbon Tax Fairness for Families) Amendment Act, this legislation builds on the government's announcement that SaskEnergy will stop collecting the carbon tax on residential customers' natural gas bills.
- Bill 139: The Saskatchewan Remembrance Observance Act, this legislation protects a workers' right to wear a poppy in the workplace.
- Bill 147: The Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Amendment Act, 2023, this legislation strengthens provisions to protect youth from smoking and vaping.
In addition to its legislative agenda, government also announced fairness for families who heat their homes with electricity by directing SaskPower to stop collecting the carbon tax on electric home heating bills. Saskatchewan will continue to push the federal government to remove the carbon tax from all forms of home heating. The province also responded to the federal government's unaffordable, unconstitutional and unattainable Clean Electricity Regulations by making it the very first item to be scrutinized by the Saskatchewan First Tribunal to assess economic harm on the regulations that would see power rates for customers double by 2035.
"Saskatchewan has taken considerable steps to protect families from the harmful impacts of the federal government's unfair and unaffordable carbon tax," Crown Investments Corporation Minister Dustin Duncan said. "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."
The government also focused on several key initiatives to assist Saskatchewan's most vulnerable. A new provincial approach to homelessness will create 155 new supportive housing spaces, 120 new permanent emergency shelter spaces, and 30 new complex needs emergency shelter spaces. A new employment incentive will make life more affordable for working families with low incomes through financial benefits, supplementary benefits, connections to employment and housing supports. Five hundred new addictions treatment spaces, along with a new central intake system, were allocated to help those struggling with addictions to be able to access treatment. As well, free, rapid access counselling services for children and youth are expanding across the province, with more services now in Regina, Saskatoon, Weyburn, Estevan, Carlyle, Oxbow, North Battleford, Yorkton, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Humboldt, Kindersley, Leader, Unity, Rosetown and Swift Current.
"Our government is making significant investments to support those in greatest need," Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky said. "This includes building and protecting people and public safety with strong supports for low-income individuals and families, children and youth in care, as well as those experiencing homelessness and living with complex needs."
To assist Saskatchewan families with the affordability and availability of housing, a new Provincial Sales Tax Rebate for New Home Construction and Secondary Suite Incentive were created. These programs will provide up to 42 per cent of PST paid on a newly constructed home, and 35 per cent of the cost to build a secondary suite within the owners' primary residence.
In Health, significant progress is being made to address staffing challenges and to ensure people have access to the health care they need. The Saskatchewan Health Authority has hired 877 new nursing graduates since December 2022 and nearly 80 applications have been approved for the enhanced Rural Physician Incentive Program. From April 1 to September 30, Saskatchewan's surgical system performed 47,748 procedures, the most ever recorded for the first six months of the year. To ensure patients have access to urgent breast cancer diagnostic procedures, while ongoing work continues to improve current service levels closer to home, patients on an urgent wait list will now be able to receive procedures out-of-province at a private medical facility in Calgary. The Student Loan Forgiveness Program for Nurses and Nurse Practitioners for rural and remote communities is being expanded to five additional mid-sized communities to help retain graduates to stay and work in Saskatchewan, and a new physician assistant training program was announced to train physician assistants right here in Saskatchewan to provide enhanced care and strengthen the health system.
In Education, a new Provincial Education Plan was released to guide the sector’s work, mandatory holocaust education was announced, a new K-12 school was opened in Blaine Lake, a new joint-use school was opened in Regina at Argyle and St. Pius X, and ground was officially broken on a new joint-use school in north Regina.
Saskatchewan continues its strong economic growth with nation leading GDP of 6.0 per cent, retail trade up 3.0 per cent year-over-year, the second-lowest provincial unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent, and an increase of 19,300 jobs when compared to last year. In late October, mining world leader BHP announced a $6.4 billion investment in stage two of the Jansen potash project. This project is the largest private sector investment in Saskatchewan's history and is expected to create over 2,000 construction jobs and 900 full-time positions once production starts.
To maintain this momentum, Premier Scott Moe led a delegation to the Council of Parties COP28 conference to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in early December. Joined by over 55 companies and organizations, the delegation shared Saskatchewan's story on sustainability, innovations in environmental stewardship, and most importantly, how Saskatchewan has the food, fuel, fertilizer and critical minerals to supply a growing world.
For more information, contact:Matthew Glover