Legislative Updates

Report from the Legislature December 3, 2014

December 3, 2014


Saskatchewan is strong, a key message in Premier Wall’s state-of-the-province address this week.  Fiscal responsibility is key to our plan for growth and, despite falling oil prices, our Mid-Year Financial Report shows we are still on track to post a balanced budget in 2014-15.  Since lower oil prices are expected in the coming year, we will carefully manage government spending in an effort to balance the budget with the priorities of Saskatchewan people.

It is important to remember that our economy is about much more than oil; it includes strong potash, uranium, agriculture, manufacturing and technology sectors.  In fact, just eight per cent of the nearly 72,000 new jobs created in Saskatchewan over the past seven years have been in the resource sector.  Saskatchewan also continues to post the strongest job growth and lowest unemployment rate in Canada, an indicator that our economy is diverse and strong.

Saskatchewan is strong, diversified and well-positioned moving forward because of our greatest strength – our people. To keep Saskatchewan strong this generation and next, we are investing in tomorrow’s leaders today.  There are many ways in which we’re doing this and one of them is through the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings (SAGES).

SAGES enables the Government of Saskatchewan to provide a grant of 10 per cent on contributions made since January 1, 2013, into a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to a maximum of $250 per child per year.  Since the program was officially launched earlier this year, more than $2 million has been allocated to over 10,000 Saskatchewan families.  You can learn more about the program and eligibility requirements online at saskatchewan.ca/sages.

We want to ensure that as many students as possible receive the opportunity to participate in and complete their post-secondary education.  This fall, the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship has been awarded to more than 12,000 students attending post-secondary education in Saskatchewan, totalling nearly $6 million in funding from the province.

Designed to help make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable, the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship provides all new grade 12 graduates $500 per year, to a lifetime maximum of $2,000, to be applied to their tuition costs at a Saskatchewan post-secondary institution.  Since 2012, nearly 26,000 scholarships worth approximately $13 million have been awarded to support more than 16,000 students.  Students have up to 10 years after graduation to use the benefit.  To learn more visit saskatchewan.ca/SAS.

Since 2008, the Government of Saskatchewan has invested $5.5 billion in post-secondary institutions and students.  In addition to programs, such as SAGES and the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship, this includes the Graduate Retention Program which provides up to a $20,000 refundable and non-refundable tax credit for graduates who live in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan is a strong when our people are strong and our government is committed to providing greater support for those who are experiencing mental health and addiction issues.  To that end, I would like to thank Dr. Fern Stockdale Winder and many others who have helped to shape recommendations included in a new Mental Health and Addiction Action Plan.

Working Together for Change: A 10-Year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Saskatchewan is the culmination of extensive public consultations across the province with a particular emphasis on the voices of people with lived experience of mental health and addictions issues and their family members, service providers across the human service sectors, and concerned citizens.  Together, these voices were powerful in the call for change and this report reflects a process of careful listening and responding to this call for change.

The Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan outlines 16 recommendations that fall into seven categories:

  • Enhance access and capacity and support recovery in the community;
  • Focus on prevention and early intervention;
  • Create person and family-centred and co-ordinated services;
  • Respond to diversities;
  • Partner with First Nations and Métis Peoples;
  • Reduce stigma and increase awareness; and 
  • Transform the system and sustain the change.

Our government has received and endorsed the commissioner’s report, emphasizing our commitment to improving response to people with mental health or addictions issues.

Since 2007, funding for mental health services in Saskatchewan has increased 34 per cent.  This new plan will guide our government’s efforts to improve mental health and addictions services over the next 10 years.

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

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