From the office of Bob Bjornerud
Infrastructure Investment Improving Health Care
The purpose of a growing province and a strong and diversified economy is to ensure the best possible quality of life for Saskatchewan people. This is why, several years ago, our government proceeded with the first ever review of the Saskatchewan health care system from the perspective of patients.
The Patient First Review has guided our government’s efforts to make the health care system more responsive, efficient and effective. So far we have seen a dramatic reduction in surgical wait times and primary health care innovations that are revitalizing health services in rural communities.
Today there are 500 new doctors and nearly 3,000 new nurses providing exceptional care to the people of Saskatchewan. These professionals need a safe and modern environment to deliver high-quality health services, and our government is committed to supporting projects to ensure the needs of patients are being met. This means that needed and long-awaited facilities are being built.
We’re replacing 13 long-term care facilities in communities across the province. Last week’s grand openings in Biggar and Kerrobert marked the completion of eleven of those projects. A new facility in Kelvington is under construction while another in Meadow Lake is in the planning phase.
Construction continues on the new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford, the Saskatchewan Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon, and the grand opening of the new Moose Jaw Hospital will be held later this week. We are committed to a health system that puts patients first and while there remains more to do, there is a solid foundation in place to achieve exceptional patient and family-centred care.
Lower Travel and Communications Spending in 2014-15
The Saskatchewan government carefully managed expenses in 2014-15, including reducing travel and communications spending while continuing to invest in priorities for Saskatchewan people. Ministers’ travel costs were down 31 per cent from the previous year and down 64 per cent from 2006-07. Spending on Ministers’ travel in 2014-15 was the lowest since Ministerial travel began being calculated separately in 1991-92. That year, Ministers’ travel spending was $428,000.
Overall, Ministry travel costs were down 3.5 per cent from the previous year, and down 8.0 per cent from 2006-07. Ministry communications costs were down 14 per cent from the previous year and 42 per cent from 2006-07. In total, the government reduced its travel and communications costs by nearly $3.0 million compared to the previous year and by $10 million compared to 2006-07.
The Saskatchewan government finished 2014-15 with a surplus of $62 million, according to the province’s year-end financial results. Total revenue was $14.06 billion, down just $14 million or 0.1 per cent from budget. Total expense was $14 billion, down $5.0 million or 0.03 per cent from budget.
Targeted Funding to Protect Neighbourhoods and Families
The Government of Saskatchewan is taking action to ensure the safety of neighbourhoods and families by providing $4.6 million in Municipal Police Grants to the Regina Police Service (RPS). This funding supports 39 positions and will provide enhanced community and investigative policing initiatives.
Municipal Police Grant funding builds on the partnerships between the government and municipal police forces to address key community safety priorities, including:
• Reducing the victimization and sexual exploitation of children through the Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit. ICE members identify victimized children, investigate cases of possession, production, and distribution of child pornography and internet luring, and help prosecute sexual offenders. ICE includes members from RPS, Saskatoon Police Service (SPS), Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) and the RCMP.
• Combatting organized crime and gang activity through the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU). CFSEU’s mandate is to expose, investigate, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute organized crime. It includes members from RPS, SPS, PAPS and the RCMP.
• Holding chronic habitual offenders to account through the Serious and Habitual Offender Comprehensive Action Program (SHOCAP). SHOCAP provides intensive supervision and interagency case planning for designated habitual chronic offenders.
The provincial government annually provides funds for 125 municipal police positions and policing initiatives across the province. This grant fulfills the government’s commitment for 120 new police officers and is part of the ministry’s ongoing commitment to supporting municipal policing services.
24/7 Winter Service Now Available on Highway Hotline
Road conditions can change rapidly and, with winter approaching, Saskatchewan’s Highway Hotline is now reporting conditions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Updated a minimum three times per day, The Highway Hotline provides up-to-date road information so people can plan their travel.
With more than five million visitors last year, The Highway Hotline is the most used Government of Saskatchewan internet resource. Updates outside of winter provide information on road construction, closures or other changes caused by natural disasters such as flooding events or forest fires.
To access the Highway Hotline visit http://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/transportation/highways/highway-hotline. You can also contact the Highway Hotline by calling 1-888-335-7623. Also, visit the Saskatchewan Highway Hotline Facebook page for other important information or follow on twitter @SkGovHwyHotline to receive updates on roads that are closed or not recommended for travel.