(29 March 2012)
Keeping the Saskatchewan Advantage
Last week our government brought down the only balanced budget in Canada. The theme of this year’s budget is Keeping the Saskatchewan Advantage. One of the ways it does that is providing responsible fiscal management within a framework of sustainable spending on services and initiatives important to Saskatchewan people and keeping the promises we made in last fall’s election, an advantage created by the hard work of all of us. This is a budget with a vision to make Saskatchewan the best place in Canada to live, to work, to start a business, to get an education, to raise a family and to build a life. This is a big vision but we are well on the way. Our government has identified four goals that will set the direction for the province, there are Sustainable growth and opportunities for Saskatchewan people, improve our quality of life, making life more affordable, and delivering responsive government.
This budget supports these goals by keeping our budget balanced, keeping our spending sustainable, keeping our economy strong and growing, and keeping the promises we made in the recent election campaign. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior which is why, even before the budget was announced, we put in place the necessary changes to expand the Active Families Benefits and the PST exemption on children’s clothing. This was a promise we made in our election platform and we delivered on it.
Our government knows to keep the Saskatchewan Advantage we must keep our economy strong. This means being fiscally responsible with a balanced budget and setting aside for a rainy day. This budget does just that. We have also limited overall government spending to less than five per cent while providing the services we all need. The Growth and Financial Security Fund will grow to $978.9 million over the next four years to provide for those unexpected events we know all too well.
The economic growth we seek is so families can enjoy a quality of life second to none, but this growth comes with some challenges. One of these challenges is the need for safe and dependable child care spaces. This budget provides funding for 500 new child care spaces, this will go a long way to provide child care, but we know there is more to do.
This budget also provides funding to deliver on the election promise to help students build their future right here in Saskatchewan, through the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship. This scholarship will provide all new high school graduates with up to $2,000 over four years to be applied to tuition fees at any Saskatchewan post-secondary institution or recognized training course. This is another way we are ensuring everyone benefits from Saskatchewan’s growth.
When our government came to office we learned that the Seniors Income Plan had not been increased in 16 years, this was not acceptable. We doubled this benefit for low-income seniors by the end of our first term, but there is still more to do. This is why we promised to increases this plan by $50 a month this year, with a further increase of $10 a month in each of the next three years. By the end of 2014, this will increase to $270 per month; triple what the SIP benefit was when we formed government in 2007. Another promise made, and kept.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Jim.
Past Legislative Reports