The fall sitting of the Saskatchewan Legislature opened Thursday with the annual Throne Speech, which was read by Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schoefield.
The provincial government says the Throne Speech builds on the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth released last week by Premier Brad Wall.
"In this session, our government's priorities will be investing in infrastructure, addressing the skilled labour shortage and ensuring Saskatchewan remains competitive, while maintaining fiscal discipline and a balanced budget," Wall said.
"At the same time, it's important to remember that we don't seek growth for the sake of growth. We seek growth to improve the quality of life of everyone living in Saskatchewan. That's why this session will also focus on improving our health and education system, improving life for persons with disabilities and improving educational outcomes and employment opportunities for First Nations and Métis people."
Some of the specific measures outlined in the Throne Speech include:
- Creating SaskBuilds and a new $150 million SaskBuilds fund to drive infrastructure financing, design and delivery;
- Continuing efforts to add 12,600 new low-income housing units by 2016;
- Developing 300 more apprenticeship spaces;
- Lowering the business tax rate with a goal of reducing it from 12 to 10 per cent by 2015, which will bring Saskatchewan in line with Alberta and BC;
- Establishing the Global Institute for Food Security;
- Introducing new measures to improve worker safety in highway construction zones (Orange Zones) including increasing speeding fines to triple the normal penalty and use of photo radar in construction zones;
- Creating the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings, which will help families who are saving for their children's post-secondary education by providing up to $250 per year per child;
- Introducing a new Student Achievement Initiative and the introduction of provincial assessments for every student in the K-12 system;
- Continuing to make progress on the First Nations and Métis Education and Employment Joint Task Force;
- Increasing efforts to retain Saskatchewan-trained physicians and to attract more international medical graduates through the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment;
- Introducing a new team-based approach to providing primary and emergency care in rural and remote communities modeled on Nova Scotia's Collaborative Emergency Centres;
- Providing student loan forgiveness for new doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who practice in rural and remote communities;
- Introducing new legislation giving the Ministry of Justice the authority to oversee the seizure of criminal property;
- Bringing forward new legislation to make the Global Transportation Hub west of Regina into a self-sustaining Authority, which will allow it to expand to new markets around the world; and
- Introducing a new Saskatchewan Employment Act that will give Saskatchewan the most modern, competitive, fair and balanced labour and employment environment in Canada.
"This Throne Speech is about planning for growth because growth has been good for our province," Wall said. "Our government's job today is to ensure Saskatchewan continues to grow, that we are meeting the challenges of growth, and that all Saskatchewan people are enjoying the benefits of growth."