Throne speech sets tone for up­com­ing Sask. election cam­paign

Moose Jaw - - News - Ron Wal­ter can be reached at ron­[email protected]­ By Ron Wal­ter For Moose Jaw Ex­press

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.

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