(17 May 2012)
While other provinces and countries struggle with huge deficits and growing debt, Saskatchewan is a different story. Our budget is balanced, there are thousands of new jobs and our population is at a record high and continues to grow. More people than ever before are choosing Saskatchewan as the place they want to live, work and raise their families. We call this the Saskatchewan Advantage. It was created by your hard work and we took action during the spring session of the Legislature to protect that advantage.
The highlight of the spring session was the introduction and passage of Canada’s only balanced provincial budget. The 2012-13 Keeping the Saskatchewan Advantage budget is balanced on both a general revenue and summary financial basis, invests a further $70 million into the Growth and Financial Security Fund , posts a small surplus and contained sustainable spending that allowed us to keep most of the promises we made during the 2011 election, including:
This balanced budget is a key part of keeping the Saskatchewan Advantage created by your hard work. Over the last year, Saskatchewan employers have created more than 13,000 new jobs, our population is growing at its fastest pace in 60 years and many economic forecasters are predicting we will lead the country in economic growth both this year and next.
- Introducing a new “Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship” that will provide up to $2,000 over four years to new high school graduates to reduce the cost of post-secondary education in Saskatchewan;
- Expanding the Active Families Benefit and the PST exemption on clothing to include all children under 18;
- 500 new childcare spaces;
- A new $10,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers;
- Launching the STARS emergency medical helicopter service;
- Forgiving up to $120,000 in student loans for new doctors and up to $20,000 for new nurses and nurse practitioners who practice in rural and remote communities;
- Increasing benefits under the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program by $2,760 a year for couples and $2,400 a year for individuals;
- Increasing the Seniors Income Plan (SIP) benefit by $600 a year; and
- Providing the first year of the government’s four-year commitment of $2.2 billion to repair and maintain Saskatchewan highways.
So what’s next?
As spring turns to summer and the spring session of the legislature comes to an end, the Premier has given MLAs do between now and the fall. He has charged the 49 men and women you elected to represent you on November 7, 2011, with an important task: go into our communities and consult with the public, stakeholders and elected bodies on how they would like to see how our province grow. Long-term planning is key – together we will continue to build a strong province.
Maintaining long-term growth and the benefits that come from that growth is important to realizing your Saskatchewan Party’s vision of a debt-free province with a population of more than 1.1 million people. That’s where you come in. We know where we want to go – we need you to tell us how to get there.
In the coming weeks, MLAs will reach out to constituents to start the “information-gathering” process. What we hear from you will form the strong foundation on which we will build Saskatchewan’s future - together. We will keep the Saskatchewan Advantage – and keep our province moving forward.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Lyle.
Past Legislative Reports