(16 February 2012)
Surgical wait times are down again, as our government continues making progress towards its goal of no one waiting more than 3 months for surgery by 2014. New statistics updated to the end of last December show the number of patients waiting more than 18 months is down 89 per cent from where it was in 2007. The number of people waiting more than 12 months is down 76 per cent. Over the last five years, our government has instituted several new initiatives that have played a role in this reduction, including; using private surgical clinics within the public system; to recruiting more doctors and nurses; and expanding training opportunities for medical students.
During the recent campaign, one of the promises we made was to continue to manage the province’s finances in such way that our economy remains strong and growing. I am happy to report today that this year’s budget remains balanced despite historic flooding last year. Due to the strength of the Saskatchewan economy and our current prosperity, our government was able to provide assistance to the many Saskatchewan families affected by flooding. In spite of that, we will finish this year with a balanced budget, further reduce the provincial debt and retain a balance of more than $700 million the provincial savings account.
It’s not often that an announcement half-way around the world affects Saskatchewan directly - unless you control close to 20 per cent of the global resource involved. The federal government announced recently that it had signed a $3 billion deal which will see China buy Canadian uranium. That directly affects our province; due to the fact all of the uranium production in Canada comes from Saskatchewan mines. Uranium mining pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into the Saskatchewan economy each year through expansion, salaries, taxes and royalties.
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority is looking for average to below average runoff, which means a low risk of flooding. However, in some areas, with a high carryover of water there could still be flood issues. Significant late winter or spring storms could increase risk of flooding. That being said, this is the first forecast issued for 2012, and SWA will continue to monitor the spring melt. If we do have flooding issues the province will provide assistance through PDAP.
Our government remains committed to ensuring Saskatchewan families are safe and secure in the event of job action by important service-providers such as nurses or snow-plow operators. In light of the recent court ruling on our Essential Services law, which upheld the need for such legislation, we will work with the organized labour to find the right balance that protects you and your family. To that end, we have asked the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour for written input which we hope to receive by the start of the spring session of the Legislature.
We have made it easier than ever to plan your summer vacation at a Provincial Park. This year we have expanded the 14-night maximum stay during peak season to more parks, and made all camp sites open for either walk-up or reservation. Beginning at 8 a.m. CST on March 12, 2012, reservations can be made in real-time for 24 parks through their website or by calling 1-855-737-7275.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Jim.
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