(26 April 2012)
Saskatchewan’s always had a unique place in Canada. The thing 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.
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 stakeholder 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 not the only area that our government is seeking and implementing innovative ideas, surgical care is another area we are seeing results. 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 the option to receive surgery within 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. Much of this funding will go directly to hospital cost, supplies and salaries. 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. Did you know? Saskatchewan will provide approximately 86,000 surgeries in 2012-13.
As spring turns to summer, the second highest Highways and Infrastructure budget in the province’s history will be put into action, in the form of orange zones across the province. 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.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Jim.
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