Throne speech sets tone for upcoming Sask. election campaign
A wide-ranging pre-election year Throne speech outlining the Saskatchewan Party program for the current legislative session was delivered by Lt.-Gov. W. Thomas Molloy.
Key measures in the 24-page document promised a balanced budget, enhanced rural policing and safety measures plus a continued fight against a federal carbon tax while pursuing a Saskatchewan climate change policy.
Reiterating the court challenge to the tax to “stand up for the people,” the speech claimed “this tax is an ineffective policy that will not significantly reduce emissions. It will harm our economy and make life less affordable for Saskatchewan people.”
The speech noted research from the University of Regina confirms a carbon tax would reduce Saskatchewan GDP by $16 billion by 2030 but the federal plan would only reduce emissions by one per cent. The Prairie Resilience Climate Change Strategy includes commitments to reduce annual emissions by almost 12 million tonnes by 2030, cut emissions from electrical generation by 40 per cent, and decrease methane emissions from oil and gas production by 40 per cent.
On safety, the speech outlined successes of the Protective Response Team in addressing rural crime and tougher impaired driving laws. New laws will allow municipalities with less than 500 population to enter regional police services and make seizure of property obtained by crime easier.
Trespassing laws will “better address” the balance between rural land owner rights and the public. Domestic violence legislation will make Saskatchewan the first Canadian province to allow police to disclose information about a violent past to intimate partners.
Two new hospitals will be completed along with 14 long-term care facilities and two new schools. A single procurement agency for $2 billion worth of goods and services purchases is expected to save millions.
The commitment to reducing hospital wait times continues with three more team-based accountable care units. Mental health services will be enhanced with police crisis officers including in Moose Jaw. Multi-disciplinary community recovery teams will be added in eight communities.
Education funding will increase by $30 million allowing 400 more teachers.
The Saskatchewan Employment Act will be amended to expand parental leave from 37 weeks to 63 weeks and add an additional week of maternity leave. The low-income tax credit seniors’ benefit will triple taking 112,000 people off the provincial income tax rolls.
The province will apologize to First Nations for the Sixties Scoop when Indigenous children were adopted by white parents.
The earned income threshold for earnings by income assistance clients may be increased. Commercial driver training will be reviewed.
All Canadian veterans will get free hunting and fishing licenses.