(24 February 2016)
Keeping the Saskatchewan Advantage
Over the past eight years we have worked to create the Saskatchewan Advantage – a plan to grow and strengthen Saskatchewan through low taxes, sound fiscal management and a stable regulatory regime. We’ve done this because we know a growing economy will help us maintain a high quality of life.
The Saskatchewan Advantage would be at risk under Cam Broten and the NDP. They have failed to stand up for Saskatchewan and give straight answers as to whether or not they oppose measures like a universal carbon tax imposed on our province from Ottawa that could further weaken our economy.
The NDP have also failed to support economic issues that would benefit Saskatchewan workers and producers such as the TPP trade agreement and CETA free trade deal with Europe. They have opposed the New West Partnership trade agreement amongst the three western provinces, and have even refused to say whether they back a new free trade deal within Canada that is currently under discussion.
The NDP have even said they would stop major infrastructure projects, such as the Regina Bypass, threatening jobs and investment in our province.
It has taken a lot of time to build the Saskatchewan Advantage; an advantage that has helped to grow and diversify our economy and keep Saskatchewan strong during a period of economic uncertainty. We can’t afford to go back to the days of higher taxes, fewer people and less investment in Saskatchewan.
Record Municipal Revenue Sharing for Saskatchewan Communities
Despite the impact of falling oil prices, our government has maintained its commitment to provide municipalities with one percentage point of total provincial sales tax revenues. Municipal Revenue Sharing is estimated to be more than $271 million in 2016-17, representing an increase of 113% from 2007-2008.
Our government understands that our municipal partners rely on these predictable, sustainable and unconditional grants to invest in local priorities and keep Saskatchewan strong. A detailed breakdown of municipal revenue sharing can be found online at saskatchewan.ca/municipalrevenuesharing.
The NDP seriously underfunded Saskatchewan communities cutting revenue sharing to municipalities several times and by failing to implement a stable, predictable revenue sharing formula when they had the chance. When the NDP left office in 2007, revenue sharing was actually less than when they came to power in 1991.
Final Designs of New Joint-Use Schools Unveiled
Hard work and collaboration has resulted in the successful design of eighteen publicly-owned elementary schools being built on nine joint-use sites in Regina, Saskatoon, Martensville and Warman. The designs, along with each of the construction site webcams, can be viewed online.
Ready for students by September 2017, these schools have been designed to accommodate more than 11,000 students from Prekindergarten to Grade 8. Each joint-use school, co-owned by the public and Catholic school divisions, will contain a 90-space childcare centre as well as community space.
During the NDP’s 16 years in office from 1991 to 2007, there were 176 schools closed in Saskatchewan – an average of about one school closure every month. From 1997 to 2007, K-12 school enrolment declined by 16 per cent. Since 2007, our government has invested nearly $1 billion in 40 brand new or replacement schools as well as 25 major school renovations. K-12 school enrolment is up 6.3 per cent since 2007.
New Affordable Rental Housing in Saskatchewan
Access to a safe, affordable place to call home is a priority for all of us, and is the foundation for a better quality of life. Our government is pleased to partner with the public and private sector to provide more Saskatchewan people with an affordable home in which to build their dreams for the future.
Just recently we celebrated the completion of new rental housing in Weyburn, Yorkton and Saskatoon. There have been over 6,900 rental starts in Saskatchewan since our government took office and the average provincial vacancy rate has improved from 1.2 per cent under the NDP to 6.4 per cent today.
There is more work to do but it’s worth noting that, in 2015 alone, there were over 1,000 rental starts in Saskatchewan. Our government has also provided funding to develop and repair over 14,600 housing units across the province.
Enhancing Healthcare in Southeast Saskatchewan
People living in southeastern Saskatchewan now have access to specialized diagnostic imaging services closer to home. A CT scanner has started operating at St. Joseph’s Hospital of Estevan. Providing this service locally means less travel time and expense for patients, and quicker access to medical diagnosis and treatment.
The addition of a CT scanner in Estevan helps meet the increased demand due to population growth, and improves overall capacity for publicly-funded CT services in the province. Our government is happy to partner with the community and health region to provide this important service.
Estevan’s CT scanner is the 14th permanent hospital-based CT scanner in Saskatchewan. The other CT scanners are located in Saskatchewan’s six regional hospitals (Lloydminster, Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Yorkton) and the five provincial hospitals in Regina and Saskatoon.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Lyle.
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