The first session of the new Legislative Assembly opened on May 17 with a Throne Speech that closely resembled the government’s platform in the recent election campaign.
“We didn’t make a lot of election promises but we made one significant commitment – to keep Saskatchewan strong,” Premier Brad Wall said. “We will do that in three key areas. We will work to keep the economy strong, to keep the province’s finances strong, and to keep Saskatchewan’s place in Canada strong by always standing up for Saskatchewan’s interests.”
Wall said Bill 1 of the new legislative session will be an amendment to remove the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority from The Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act.
“This will allow our government to move forward on our campaign commitment to convert 40 government-owned liquor stores to private stores, create 12 new private stores and offer consumers more choice, more convenience and more competitive prices,” Wall said.
Wall said during the session, the government will also keep its other election promises, including:
- Fixing more highways through an increase in highways maintenance funding
- Continuing to make major investments in much-needed infrastructure projects, like hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities and the Regina Bypass
- Introducing a new “patent box” tax incentive – the first of its kind in North America – to create jobs and investment through the commercialization of patents and intellectual property in Saskatchewan
- Changing regulations to allow home-based food businesses to sell products produced in the home directly to consumers and retailers
- Expanding the “two-for-one” model recently introduced for MRI scans to also include CT scans
- Expanding an innovative remote technology health care pilot project in Pelican Narrows to other northern communities
- Amending The Saskatchewan Employment Act to ensure that those caring for a family member in the final stages of life will be eligible for 28 weeks of leave per year
- Reducing heath region administration costs by $7.5 million per year and re-directing that savings toward front-line seniors’ care
- Extending SaskPower’s net metering program for solar power for another two years.
As well, an all-party legislative committee will be asked to look at ways to increase the rate of organ donations in Saskatchewan.
“Organ donations save lives,” Wall said. “Unfortunately, the rates of organ donation in Saskatchewan and Canada are much lower than the rates in the United States and many countries in Europe.
“This is certainly not a partisan issue, so it makes sense to have the Human Services Committee, made up of both government and opposition members, look at best practices in other jurisdictions and report back with their findings and recommendations.”
The Throne Speech debate will last about two weeks and will be followed by the introduction of the 2016-17 provincial budget on June 1.