Legislative Report (16 April 2008)THE NEW “IT” PROVINCE
People right across Canada are talking about Saskatchewan. The Globe and Mail recently devoted a large chunk of its business section to the Land of the Living Skies. Saskatchewan was described as Canada’s new “it” province. The Royal Bank’s chief economist called us the “new Alberta.” The Business News Network ran a week-long series on Saskatchewan featuring interviewers with realtors, politicians, businesspeople, and resource industry insiders. The series reinforced our new “it” status. With the latest sales of oil and gas exploration rights generating a record $265 million, eclipsing in one sale the old entire year record of $250 million set in 2007, we are on track to surpassing even Alberta, in terms of land sales. Throw into the mix the prediction by RBC Financial Group that Saskatchewan will lead the country in growth in 2008 and 2009, and it’s obvious why the theme of our first budget is Ready For Growth!
ANOTHER PROMISE KEPT
Your Saskatchewan Party government is keeping another campaign promise with the second reading of the Active Families Benefit legislation . That brings to more than 60 the total number of campaign promises kept. The Active Families Benefit will be a $150 refundable tax credit for kids six to 14 registered in cultural, recreational or sports programs. The list of eligible activities will be defined by this fall, with the program coming into effect for the 2009 tax year. It is estimated it will provide an estimated $18 million in tax relief for Saskatchewan famlies, affecting up to 120,000 kids. Research shows active kids are not only physically healthier, they watch less TV, play fewer video games, have better friendships, are less likely to drop out of school, or get involved with drinking and drug use.
BUILDING CANADA INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING
Your Saskatchewan Party government’s more positive approach to federal-provincial relations is paying off. An agreement under the Building Canada program was announced this past week, bringing with it $755 million in infrastructure funding. Projects that will be funded include the Lewvan – TransCanada intersection in Regina and the twinning of the highway between Saskatoon and Prince Albert. For far too long the NDP ignored the province’s infrastructure needs. Their 16-year legacy of crumbling roads and highways has come to an end.
Your Saskatchewan Party government is committed to ensuring families have as many choices as possible when it comes to their children’s education, which is why we have introduced proposed amendments to the Education Act, 1995. The amendments are about balancing consultation, communication and assessment in regards to school closures with preserving the strength and autonomy of locally-elected school boards. Under the changes, school divisions will now have to give formal notice to a school during October if it is under review, as opposed to the current February. Forming a school review committee becomes a requirement. And the Minister of Education will be able to designate a school as a School of Opportunity, with criteria established by the end of June. These amendments provide guidelines which will ensure boards can make informed and responsible decisions on behalf of their residents with input from the community.
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