Report from the Legislature

April 27, 2012

Saskatchewan’s always had a unique place in Canada. One of the things that sets us apart this year is that we have the only balanced provincial budget in the country. Newfoundland and Labrador announced its deficit budget this week – and that’s the last budget announcement of 2012.

We know that this was made possible by all hard work that you do – and as legislators, we commit that we will continue to take action that protects the Saskatchewan Advantage you have created. But the Saskatchewan Advantage is about more than just growth for growth’s sake. It is about taking the benefits of having a strong, growing economy and putting it to work for the Saskatchewan people. Investing in affordable housing is one of the ways we’re doing that.

Our government recently announced that we have redesigned two programs that improve and maintain affordable housing. The Saskatchewan Home Repair Program and the Conversion Initiative were both redesigned this past year to ensure they reflect Saskatchewan's current housing environment and unique housing needs. The Saskatchewan Home Repair Program will assist moderate-income homeowners and rental property owners housing low-income tenants to repair and/or adapt their dwellings so they are not lost from the market. The Conversion Initiative will focus on encouraging development of new rental housing by private and non-profit groups by converting non-residential space to residential use.

Regina was honoured to host the second Housing and Development Summit this week, which focused on the continued planning for growth in Saskatchewan and the need to ensure that housing is affordable and accessible for all Saskatchewan citizens. This summit is important because it provides stakeholders with an opportunity to learn from the experts and exchange ideas on current housing planning. Through consultation with stakeholders we will find the solution for the tight housing market that economic growth brings.

Housing is just one of the areas in which our government is making investments to support our historic growth.  Guided by the Patient First Review, our government recognizes the need for reliable and efficient health care. This is why we set a target that all patients requiring surgery will have wait a maximum of three months by 2014. To achieve this goal, we are investing $60.5 million in the 2012-13 budget for the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative, which will allow the Regional health authorities to complete an additional 4,380 surgeries across Saskatchewan this year. While we know there is always more to do, this initiative is another way we are working to make Saskatchewan the best place in Canada to live.

As spring turns to summer, the second highest Highways and Infrastructure budget in the province’s history will be put into action with the return of the orange zone. This year there are more than 1,200 kilometers of major improvements and planned maintenance throughout the province. We have invested more than $2.2 billion in our highway system since 2007, but there is always more to be done. So when you and your family hit the road this summer, make sure you keep an eye out and slow down to 60 in the orange zone.