Legislative Report (10 December 2008)
A Stronger Saskatchewan, A Better Life
The fall session of the Saskatchewan legislature produced several measures which will benefit all Saskatchewan people. The session began with the Premier’s Announcement of the largest tax reduction, debt reduction and infrastructure investment in Saskatchewan history.
We raised the Basic and Spousal Personal Exemptions by $4,000 and increased the Child Tax Credit to $2,000, benefitting thousands of families and individuals. The new Low Income Tax Credit will assist people who have no income. Because of these tax changes, 80,000 low income individuals will no longer pay provincial income tax.
By committing a further $1 billion to debt reduction we will save taxpayers $900 million in interest payments over the next four years. Our government is currently paying down the debt at $7 million a day. During the fall session, we further reduced the debt by $300 million.
The 2009 budget will see our record investment in infrastructure climb to $1.5 billion. Investing in our transportation, healthcare and educational infrastructure will ensure Saskatchewan is positioned to sustain our historic economic growth. After 16 years under the NDP, there is a serious deficit in our infrastructure system. While we have made significant progress over the past year, there is still much to be done. During the fall session, your Saskatchewan Party government also took steps to ensure vulnerable and low income people received the support they need and that the Crown Corporations made investments that are in the best interest of the people of Saskatchewan. We also increased the Seniors Income Plan for the first time in 16 years.
Other accomplishments during the fall session include:
Our government also took steps to ensure the security of Saskatchewan people in these uncertain economic times. We committed to maintaining a $2 billion balance in the Growth and Financial Security Fund as a fiscal insurance policy. That money will ensure the investments we have made in healthcare, education and social programs are protected.
- increased assistance for persons with disabilities;
- improvements to the Graduate Retention Program;
- $10 million to enhance information technology in schools, public libraries and regional colleges;
- $100 million in improvements to health facilities throughout the province;
- a "Patient First" review of the health care system;
- a new five-year program to sell agricultural Crown land to producers;
- a massive expansion of high-speed Internet and cellular phone coverage by SaskTel;
- new legislation to assist renters;
- new legislation to fight crime and gang activity;
- democratic reform legislation which will allow Saskatchewan voters to elect Senate nominees;
- a ban on smoking in Saskatchewan workplaces; and
- a five-year rolling plan for highway construction.
TWINNING THE TRANSCANADA
More efficient links to our major export partners and enhanced motorist safety were two of the driving factors behind the completion of the twinning of Highway 1 through Saskatchewan. The section between Wapella and Moosomin, including a new bypass around Moosomin, is now officially open. Our province is the first in the New West to fully twin this important trade corridor which links us to port facilities and major Canadian centres from coast to coast. Completing the twinning of the TransCanada through Saskatchewan will strengthen our transportation infrastructure and play an important role in sustaining our historic growth.
EXPANDING PREKINDERGARTEN BENEFITS
Our government kept another campaign promise by announcing a further $2 million investment in pre-Kindergarten programs across the province. Approximately 600 more kids and their families will benefit from a pre-K experience during those critical years when the foundation for future learning and success is built. This brings the total number of pre-K programs in Saskatchewan to 193, serving more than 3,000 children. Studies show pre-K programs for 3 and 4-year-olds improve intellectual development, increase social skills, improve health and lead to higher self-esteem. Long term benefits include a lower rate of juvenile crime; fewer teen pregnancies; and less failed grades and/or school drop-outs. An investment in our children is an investment in the future of Saskatchewan.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Nadine.
Past Legislative Reports