Legislative Updates

Report from the Legislature June 4, 2014

June 4, 2014

Summer is nearly here and, as we make plans to enjoy the season, we are reminded of our bright future. Many families are preparing for their sons and daughters high school graduation. This is a time of reflection, celebration and anticipation for what is to come.

One of the greatest changes we have seen in recent years is that our grads are no longer forced to look for opportunity in other provinces. They have every opportunity to further their education and build their careers right here in Saskatchewan. Our government encourages it. We're doing this, in part, with Canada's most aggressive Graduate Retention Program (GRP). Under the GRP, post-secondary grads can receive up to $20,000, over seven years, in tax credits. In many instances this can mean recovering the cost of an undergraduate degree.

New high school grads can access the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship. This gives students up to $500 a year, over four years for a total of $2,000, to go toward the cost of their post-secondary education. We are also taking action to help parents save for their kids' education in the form of the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings (SAGES) program. Our government will provide a contribution to Registered Education Savings Programs (RESP) at a rate of 10% of annual contributions up to a maximum of $250 per year.

We're able to provide these and other supports, within a balanced budget framework, because of the continued growth, confidence and investment we are seeing in the province. This has resulted in a broader tax base and more resources for government, and has allowed us to make some important investments in infrastructure and, in particular, in our quality of life.

For far too long Saskatchewan's surgical wait lists were among the worst in the country. This is why, in 2010, our government decided to set a goal that no one in the province would have to wait longer than three months for surgery. To achieve that, we invested in innovative changes that would provide sooner, safer, smarter surgical care for the people of our province.

This initiative saw the creation of an online specialist directory to help patients identify surgical options, specialist groups that pool referrals so patients can see the first appropriate specialist or wait for a specific specialist, timely and appropriate care through clinical "pathways", province-wide implementation of the surgical safety checklist and measures to prevent surgical infections and medication errors. We have also increased capacity to train operating room nurses, expanded capacity through third-party surgical and diagnostic services and created a culture of continuous improvement that is being adopted by health system partners.

Today, the number of patients waiting more than three months for surgery is down 75%. There remains more to do and we will continue to work with patients and health regions to make the necessary improvements to reach our target. You can learn more at sasksurgery.ca.

As part of our commitment to make our province the best place in Canada for people with disabilities to live, eligible beneficiaries of the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability program are receiving an increase to their monthly benefits. Based on family size and living arrangements, this increase is now benefiting approximately 12,000 households.

Developed in collaboration with members of the disability community, SAID was introduced in 2009 with the goal of providing a dignified income support program for persons with significant and enduring disabilities. We continue to work on further program enhancements.

Summer travel to see family and friends is a priority for many Saskatchewan people and, for Saskatchewan seniors, it is something that is now more affordable. The Saskatchewan Transportation Company has extended its $12 Senior Seat Sale by an extra month. Until the end of June, seniors aged 60 and over can continue to ride with STC for only $12 one-way. Sale tickets can be purchased at any STC agency and must be used before June 30, 2014.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about government programs or services, please contact our constituency office. We look forward to hearing from you.

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