MLA Hindley reflects on conclusion of fall legislative session
Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley has concluded a memorable first year in the legislature following the end of the fall legislative session on December 6.
Hindley, who was elected during a March 1 by-election, has wrapped up his inaugural fall sitting which included his first Throne Speech.
“It was good to have a little bit of experience under my belt from the spring session,” Hindley admitted in an interview after returning home from Regina. “I had a chance to do a reply to the Throne Speech and get up in the House on more that one occasion to talk about some good things happening back here in Swift Current. I also had the opportunity to speak to a couple of pieces of legislation that we felt were important to speak out against on behalf of folks here in Saskatchewan.”
Hindley felt it was a productive fall session, and he noted a highlight was the success of their budgeting strategy as reflected in the Mid Year Financial Report released on November 29. Their mid-year deficit for 2018-2019 is projected to be $348.3 million, which is $17 million better than their budget day projections.
“It reaffirmed that our three-year plan to get the province’s budget back to balance is on track. So you can expect, with all things taken into consideration right now, that in the spring budget for 20192020 that that will show a balanced budget. So we’re going to continue to watch our spending and making sure that the investments we make are targeted.”
Saskatchewan continues to be a vocal opponent of a federally imposed carbon tax, and focusing on their made-in-saskatchewan Prairie Resilience Plan.
“We feel it will make some meaningful reductions towards emissions while also being able to do that without impacting the economy too greatly,” Hindley said of the Prairie Resilience Plan.
“I had a chance to speak in the House against Bill C-69 which is the Federal Impact Assessment legislation, something that we feel as a government, and the folks that we’ve talked to in the industry, we believe would severely restrict further investment, not just in Saskatchewan but in Canada.”
He also pointed to important late session legislation including moving ahead with mandatory minimum training for commercial semi drivers, approval of ride sharing legislation, the expansion of Workers’ Compensation Board coverage in a number of areas for Fire Fighters, and the introduction of Clare’s Law which makes Saskatchewan the first province to move forward with legislation which allows police to release information about someone’s violent or abusive past to intimate partners who may be at risk.
On the second last day of the fall session, the province unveiled a Waterflood Development Program to help stimulate the petroleum industry. The initiative provides incentives to convert existing producing well into waterflood injection wells or to drill new dedicated waterflood injection wells. The program could support $375 million in new investment over the next five years, while helping enhance the competitiveness of the province’s energy industry.
Hindley accompanied Minister of Energy and Resources Bronwyn Eyre when she was given a first-hand look at energy sector companies operating in the Southwest during a tour back in August.
“This particular program is something we’ve determined would be beneficial to the industry. It’s a royalty deferral program, so it’s not costing the government any money. They are plays that haven’t been developed yet,” Hindley said.
“There’s a lot at play here when it comes to the oil and gas industry. We’re seeing the differential in oil prices having an impact on the economy and on that sector. The whole pipeline versus rail debate that’s going on across the nation, we need to keep focussing on expanded pipeline capacity.”
“Anything we can do to try and incentivize that sector would be helpful because it’s so key to not just Swift Current but all of Southwest Saskatchewan and the entire province when you look at the royalties that come from the oil and gas sector to the provincial government and the countless jobs that they create, either directly involved in the oil and gas industry or indirectly. It has such a huge impact, so anything that we can do to help spur economic development it seems a positive move.”