Legislative Updates

Report from the Legislature April 23, 2014

April 24, 2014

Saskatchewan is a growing province with a growing need for maternal and children's health services. It is important that we not only design and build a Children's Hospital, but also that we deliver a facility that is going to meet our needs now and into the future.

With a growing population, we have reaffirmed our commitment to the Children's Hospital of Saskatchewan with a further investment of $20 million and approval of expansion plans to add 24 inpatient beds. Additional funding will add nine inpatient maternal rooms and 15 inpatient rooms to children's services, for a total of 176 private inpatient beds.

Our government has heard directly from staff and physicians that increasing the number of inpatient beds will ensure we're meeting the needs of families. This expansion plan will increase the overall size of the new hospital by 11 per cent (approximately 38,000 square feet) and bring the province's total investment in the project to $235.5 million.

The Children's Hospital of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, an example of our government's commitment to putting patients first, is now targeted to open in 2017.

Our government is deeply concerned with the U.S. State Department's announcement that it will delay its final decision on the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline. Facts support its construction and these politically motivated decisions are hurting our economy.

A portion of the 2,700 kilometre project would run through our province, providing jobs and freeing-up pipeline capacity so that more Saskatchewan oil can enter the North American pipeline system. Considering that a large number of rail cars have been diverted to ship oil, this latest delay doesn't help the transportation challenges our producers are currently facing.

Saskatchewan grain, potash, and other commodities suffer every day the Keystone XL Pipeline is not being built. This wavering on the part of the U.S. Administration is also hurting our ability to develop new markets and support North America energy sustainability.

This particular pipeline has been studied long and hard with the facts supporting its construction. This delay represents a major blow to the energy industry in Saskatchewan and in Canada and will place unnecessary strain on relations with our largest trading partner.

Saskatchewan continues to experience a strong demand for skilled and educated workers, according to the latest listings at SaskJobs.ca. Nearly half of the 15,644 available positions that were featured in March required higher-skilled workers. Demand was particularly strong for candidates with a post-secondary certificate, diploma or apprenticeship training.

The Saskatchewan Plan for Growth outlines our government's focus on education, training and developing a skilled workforce. We continue to work with educational institutions and employers to address existing barriers by creating new training seats, including another 300 new apprenticeship seats and 700 new spots added to the Adult Basic Education program.

Upon graduation, students have many opportunities to move from learning to earning in Saskatchewan's strong and diverse labour market. To make that connection, our government is investing in post-secondary education to ensure it is both accessible and affordable.

We're expanding training seats, making capital investments at our universities and regional colleges and investing in tax credits like the Graduate Retention Program, the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship and the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings.

Since 2008, there has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of First Nations and Métis people in Saskatchewan who have a university degree and an overall 18 per cent increase in the number of Saskatchewan workers with a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree.

A new poll by Insightrix Research suggests that if a provincial election were held today, over 63 per cent of decided voters would support the Saskatchewan Party. This result is humbling, as is the opportunity to serve in government, a responsibility we never take for granted. Of course, we know the only poll that really matters is Election Day and we intend to continue working hard to earn the support of voters while keeping Saskatchewan on the path of steady growth.

As always if you have questions or concerns about this report or any other issues please call my office.

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