(24 November 2016)
Falling Tax Revenue Requires Fiscal Restraint
During the NDP’s last 16 years in government, Saskatchewan was a have-not province with a declining population receiving equalization payments. Since our government was elected, Saskatchewan is a have province with a growing population that’s no longer dependent on equalization.
Over the past 9 years, Saskatchewan has grown and provided services to nearly 150,000 new residents. That’s equivalent to adding another Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Swift Current, North Battleford, Lloydminster (SK side), Martensville, Humboldt, Melfort, and Meadow Lake.
At a time when our economy is showing signs of strength, lower than expected potash, uranium and continued low oil prices have hit government finances hard. This year’s revenue shortfall is now $806 million and we’re taking significant restraint measures to start getting the budget back to balance.
Since coming to office, our government has paid off 1/3 of the province’s operating debt. As a result, interest costs are down from over $1 billion annually in 1994-95 to $292 million today. And we have worked to build a strong financial footing for Saskatchewan, which includes:
- Aaa credit rating;
- 2nd lowest debt to GDP ratio among the provinces;
- $6 billion in tax relief for families;
- $9 billion in infrastructure investment; and
- 2nd best job creation record in Canada.
We have the fiscal capacity to manage through challenging times. We will protect Saskatchewan's fiscal position and thanks to a low debt burden and a diversified economy, we will come through this challenging time stronger than ever.
Wait Times for Surgery in Saskatchewan Among Shortest in Canada
In Saskatchewan we’re seeing how innovation – not ideology – brings better choices, better outcomes and lower costs. For example, publicly-funded private surgeries have helped to take pressure off of the public system and have played a key role in reducing surgical wait times.
Under the NDP, Saskatchewan had the longest wait times for health care in Canada. Today, according to the Fraser Institute’s 2016 report, Saskatchewan has the second shortest wait times for Doctor to specialist and the shortest wait times from seeing a specialist to getting treatment.
Better health care services for everyone in Saskatchewan is an important part of our plan to keep Saskatchewan strong.
Government of Saskatchewan Supports National Housing Day
Safe, secure, and affordable housing provides the stable foundation on which to improve well-being, raise families and build strong communities. We have worked to invest more than $727 million to develop or repair more than 15,300 housing units across the province with more work to do.
- In April 2016, the province signed the Social Infrastructure Fund Agreement with the federal government. This agreement will provide an investment of up to $54.8 million in affordable housing in Saskatchewan over two years.
- The province is working to support citizens who are experiencing barriers to securing safe and affordable housing. Through programs like the Summit Action Fund and the Rental Development Program, $2.6 million was invested between November 2007 and August 31, 2016 to complete 40 affordable rental units specifically for people experiencing disabilities.
- The province is working with northern stakeholders to address housing challenges in the north. Through a number of initiatives and partnerships with municipalities and other government agencies, more than 300 rental and homeowner units have been completed or are under construction in northern Saskatchewan since 2007.
- Under the Saskatchewan Home Repair Programs, 3,929 units have been repaired and 178 repairs are in progress, as of the end of August 2016.
- The province is supporting the development of additional affordable rental and homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income people, by committing nearly $9 million in funding to support the construction of 152 Habitat for Humanity homes in 13 communities since 2009.
- Through the HeadStart on a Home program, the province continues to collaborate with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Saskatchewan, municipalities, and financial institutions to increase the supply of entry-level homes in the province.
Our government is committed to providing a better quality of life for all Saskatchewan people, beginning with improved access to safe, quality and affordable homes. We value our partnerships with municipalities, builders, lenders and non-profits to achieve this, and we look forward to creating even more opportunities in the future.
Saskatchewan Children Benefiting from Enhanced Education Savings
Our government understands the importance of post-secondary education and we hope Education Savings Week will encourage residents to save for their children’s education.
To help accomplish this, we offer the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings (SAGES) for contributions made to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).
Through SAGES, the Government of Saskatchewan provides a grant of 10% on RESP contributions made since January 1, 2013, to a maximum of $250 per child per year.
You can learn more at saskatchewan.ca/sages. As of June 2016, more than 46,000 Saskatchewan children have received more than $17 million from the SAGES program.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Lyle.
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