The provincial government expects that it will begin the planning work for twinning Highways 39 and 6 from Estevan to Regina next year, according to the 2013 Throne Speech, which was released on October 23.
The announcement was warmly greeted by Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles, who said that the southeast is such a busy area of the province, and growing number of semis increases the risk of travelling on the highways.
"I can remember when I was first elected, and I might meet 40 to 50 semis (while driving from Macoun to Regina)," she said. "And now it's quite a bit over the 100 mark."
Eagles said she has received hundreds of calls from lobbying groups and concerned citizens about the need to twin the highways.
"When I was first elected in 1999, I can remember that the then-member for Weyburn-Big Muddy, Brenda Bakken, and I met informally with a couple gentlemen from the States, and a couple businessmen from Estevan … to see if it was possible to get this twinned," said Eagles.
"At the time, it didn't have the traffic on it like it does now. We need it now more than ever."
The Throne Speech states that the government will also be breaking ground on a new truck bypass for Estevan, and that pre-construction work will happen for the twinning of eight kilometres of Highway 39 between Estevan and Bienfait.
Seniors care also received a lot of attention in the Throne Speech, Eagles said. The Personal Care Homes Act will be amended to allow for public disclosure of inspection records. There will also be steps to reduce pressure on long-term care homes by launching new home care pilot programs in Saskatoon and Prince Albert.
"They've also created a $10 million urgent issues action fund, and that's to address issues that have been identified, like purchasing equipment, having more baths, improving nutrition, improving responsiveness to call bells and having better training to deal with patients with dementia," said Eagles.
Eagles said the opposition NDP would like to see caregivers spend at least a minimum amount of time with each patient, but Eagles thinks it should be personalized, since some patients require more time than others.
Other highlights from the Throne Speech were:
*A new program to enable some seniors with complex issues to receive house calls from physicians, nurse practitioners and other health care providers;
*A new student-first approach in education that will include wide-ranging consultations with students, teachers, parents and administrators;
*New anti-bullying measures;
*Improvement to internet access and speed in all schools through SaskTel’s CommunityNet program;
*New measures to improve traffic safety and reduce fatalities, with a particular emphasis on tougher penalties for drinking and driving;
*Expansion of the HeadStart on a Home program to encourage construction of rental properties;
*A new Life Lease Program though the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation to improve housing options for seniors;
*And amendments to The Saskatchewan Employment Act to include the province’s essential services law, which was recently upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Premier Brad Wall said the Throne Speech addresses the challenges associated with the growing economy and the increasing number of people living and working in the province.