326 B High Street West Moose Jaw, SK

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Report from the Legislature

Summer at the Legislative Building

Report from the Legislature
April 12, 2018

Our Government has a plan to return Saskatchewan to a balanced budget by next year, and that plan is on track.

The Government of Saskatchewan continues to control and carefully manage spending in the 2018-19 Provincial Budget. Many ministries are forecasting lower spending than in the previous fiscal year, while continuing to provide valued core services that are sustainable into the future.

Expenses are forecast to be down 1.4 per cent from last year’s budget. Government has also realized $5 million in savings by reducing the number of government-owned vehicles and $19 million in savings from amalgamation into one health region, while improving front-line care.

While working to control spending, we continue to invest in the priorities of Saskatchewan people – health care, education and social services in particular. Investment in these three areas is $10.4 billion, an increase of $4 billion, or more than 64%, since 2007-08.

This year’s budget provides $700,000 for universal 100% coverage for HIV drugs and other supports; over $520,000 for a new program to screen babies born in Saskatchewan hospitals for hearing loss; and $2.8 million to individualized funding for children under six with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Our government’s commitment to increase education operating funding for the 2018-19 school year was also delivered in this budget, as was nearly $77 million in child care funding.

More than $10 million in funding will support those who provide direct daily care to adults with intellectual disabilities, children in need of protection, plus supports for families. This includes foster families and CBOs that deliver day programs and residential services to people with intellectual disabilities and provide family-focused services.

With continued funding in this year’s budget, two new major hospitals – Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford and Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital – are on track to be open by the end of next year.

In this budget, there are no increases to tax rates. Low personal and corporate income tax rates remain the same with no increases to Education Property Tax or Provincial Sales Tax rates.

We understand how competitive taxes help to attract people, businesses and investment to Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is projected to have the fourth highest growth in the country in 2018 and third highest in 2019, according to private sector forecasts. Competitive taxes and targeted incentives support continued diversification and growth in Saskatchewan’s economy.

The 2018-19 Saskatchewan Budget includes $413 million of direct support to municipalities and $123 million for municipal infrastructure; increases funding to STEP – the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Program to expand the province’s export markets; and provides $2.7 million for infrastructure, including Crown corporations, to support the growing province.

This year’s budget also includes new growth tax incentives – the Saskatchewan Value-added Agriculture Incentive and the Saskatchewan Technology Start-up Incentive – to encourage investment, diversify the economy and create jobs.

Faced with significant challenges, including resource revenue decline of more than $1 billion due in large part to low oil and potash prices, our Government initiated a three-year plan to control and carefully manage spending and achieve a balanced budget in 2019-20.

One of the main goals of our three-year budget plan is to reduce Saskatchewan’s reliance on resource revenue, and that plan is on track. Non-renewable resource revenue now accounts for just 10% of the province’s total revenue, down from a high of 32% in 2008-09.

 

This year’s budgeted deficit is $365 million in 2018-19. A return to balance is forecast for 2019-20 with a modest surplus of $6 million. Higher surpluses of $108 million and $212 million respectively are projected for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Balance ensures long-term sustainability and continued investments in infrastructure. Improved revenue stability, diversified economy, less dependence on resource revenue. This supports our Government’s vision to ensure that Saskatchewan is the best place in Canada – to live, work, start a business, to get an education and raise a family, and to build a life.

Our government’s plan to keep Saskatchewan on track includes controlling spending, delivering high quality services for Saskatchewan people, no tax rate increases, and measures to keep our economy strong to return our province to balance in 2019-20.

[category legislative-reports]

[end]

From the Desk of Warren Michelson April 13, 2018

March 29, 2018 View this email in your browser
shield FROM THE DESK OF WARREN MICHELSON, MLA

The tragedy of the Humboldt Bronco’s bus has affected us all.  Our thoughts and prayers are especially with the families, and the community of Humboldt; realizing there will always be an emptiness that thoughts and prayers will not fill, but through the power of the almighty, our prayers may provide some comfort.



In my past career my family lived in that area.   I was employed with a broadcast company serving the entire area.  I experienced the warm, welcoming hospitality of the city of Humboldt.  They are a gracious community of good people.



During that career, I also became familiar with the town of Nipawin and the many communities in the north east area.  They are all genuine good community people who care for each other with the utmost respect and dignity.



The loss will remain a mark on our hearts forever.


 

Finance Minister
Donna Harpauer 

Balance ensures long-term sustainability and continued investments in infrastructure. Improved revenue stability, diversified economy, less dependence on resource revenue. This supports our Government’s vision to ensure that Saskatchewan is the best place in Canada – to live, work, start a business, to get an education and raise a family, and to build a life.



Our government’s plan to keep Saskatchewan on track includes controlling spending, delivering high quality services for Saskatchewan people, no tax rate increases, and measures to keep our economy strong to return our province to balance in 2019-20.
Our Government has a plan to return Saskatchewan to a balanced budget by next year, and that plan is on track.



The Government of Saskatchewan continues to control and carefully manage spending in the 2018-19 Provincial Budget. Many ministries are forecasting lower spending than in the previous fiscal year, while continuing to provide valued core services that are sustainable into the future.



Expenses are forecast to be down 1.4 per cent from last year’s budget. Government has also realized $5 million in savings by reducing the number of government-owned vehicles and $19 million in savings from amalgamation into one health region, while improving front-line care.



While working to control spending, we continue to invest in the priorities of Saskatchewan people – health care, education and social services in particular. Investment in these three areas is $10.4 billion, an increase of $4 billion, or more than 64%, since 2007-08.



This year’s budget provides $700,000 for universal 100% coverage for HIV drugs and other supports; over $520,000 for a new program to screen babies born in Saskatchewan hospitals for hearing loss; and $2.8 million to individualized funding for children under six with Autism Spectrum Disorder.



Our government’s commitment to increase education operating funding for the 2018-19 school year was also delivered in this budget, as was nearly $77 million in child care funding.



More than $10 million in funding will support those who provide direct daily care to adults with intellectual disabilities, children in need of protection, plus supports for families. This includes foster families and CBOs that deliver day programs and residential services to people with intellectual disabilities and provide family-focused services.



With continued funding in this year’s budget, two new major hospitals – Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford and Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital – are on track to be open by the end of next year.



In this budget, there are no increases to tax rates. Low personal and corporate income tax rates remain the same with no increases to Education Property Tax or Provincial Sales Tax rates.



We understand how competitive taxes help to attract people, businesses and investment to Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is projected to have the fourth highest growth in the country in 2018 and third highest in 2019, according to private sector forecasts. Competitive taxes and targeted incentives support continued diversification and growth in Saskatchewan’s economy.



The 2018-19 Saskatchewan Budget includes $413 million of direct support to municipalities and $123 million for municipal infrastructure; increases funding to STEP – the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Program to expand the province’s export markets; and provides $2.7 million for infrastructure, including Crown corporations, to support the growing province.



This year’s budget also includes new growth tax incentives – the Saskatchewan Value-added Agriculture Incentive and the Saskatchewan Technology Start-up Incentive – to encourage investment, diversify the economy and create jobs.



Faced with significant challenges, including resource revenue decline of more than $1 billion due in large part to low oil and potash prices, our Government initiated a three-year plan to control and carefully manage spending and achieve a balanced budget in 2019-20.



One of the main goals of our three-year budget plan is to reduce Saskatchewan’s reliance on resource revenue, and that plan is on track. Non-renewable resource revenue now accounts for just 10% of the province’s total revenue, down from a high of 32% in 2008-09.



This year’s budgeted deficit is $365 million in 2018-19. A return to balance is forecast for 2019-20 with a modest surplus of $6 million. Higher surpluses of $108 million and $212 million respectively are projected for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Health Foundation Healthcare Celebration

AUTOMATIC PST REFUNDS ON CERTAIN TYPES OF INSURANCE

Policy holders of crop, livestock, hail, margin/income, life and health insurance in Saskatchewan will soon receive a sales tax refund or credit from their insurance provider.  Refunds and credits are automatic, meaning no action is required of policy holders.

As announced February 26, 2018, Provincial Sales Tax (PST) no longer applies to the following types of insurance:

  • Individual and group life, health, disability, accident and sickness insurance; and
  • Crop, livestock, hail and margin/income insurance.
The PST exemption on these insurance products is retroactive to August 1, 2017, the date certain insurance premiums became taxable in Saskatchewan.



Insurance providers who collected and remitted the PST will calculate all refunds payable and either credit each policy holder’s account or provide a refund.



Policy holders do not have to request or submit a claim to their insurance provider or to the government to receive a refund or credit.  Most refunds or credits will be paid by June 30, 2018.



If you do not receive a refund or credit by that date, or have questions about the process, please contact your insurance provider.


PROVINCE ANNOUNCES 2018 SASKATCHEWAN ORDER OF MERIT RECIPIENTS 
Six outstanding Saskatchewan citizens have been selected to be invested with the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the province’s highest honour, during a ceremony in May.



“Saskatchewan’s motto is, ‘from many peoples, strength,’ and these six exceptional individuals exemplify the strength our province derives from its citizens,” Lieutenant Governor W. Thomas Molloy said.  “Whether it’s been through their leadership, the arts, activism or philanthropy, these men and women have enhanced their communities and Saskatchewan as a whole.  I offer my sincere congratulations to each of them and thank them for their contributions to our province.

The 2018 recipients are:

  • National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Assembly of First Nations, Little Black Bear First Nation;
  • Gail Bowen, Author, Regina;
  • Dr. Robert Calder, Professor Emeritus and Author, Saskatoon;
  • Maurice Delage, President of Delage Farms Ltd., Indian Head;
  • Thelma Pepper, Photographic Artist, Saskatoon; and
  • Neil Richards, LGBT Archivist and Activist, Saskatoon (posthumous).

This year’s investees into the Saskatchewan Order of Merit will join the 229 individuals who have previously been invested.

The Saskatchewan Order of Merit was established in 1985 to recognize excellence and achievements from outstanding citizens.  It is recognized in the national sequence of orders by the federal government.

For more information about the Saskatchewan Order of Merit or to nominate someone, visit www.saskatchewan.ca/honoursawards.


FIRST PUBLIC OFFERING FOR 2018-19 FISCAL YEAR NETS $2.9 MILLION

The first public offering of Crown petroleum and natural gas rights for the 2018-19 fiscal year raised $2.9 million in revenue for the province on Tuesday, which is approximately double the amount raised in the April public offering in 2017.



“There are clear indicators of renewed activity taking place in Saskatchewan’s oilpatch, which is home to some of the most cost-effective plays in North America,” Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre said.  “Predictable policies and accessible resources make this province an attractive destination for the oil and gas industry, and we intend to keep working to make it even better.”



Saskatchewan’s petroleum sector continues to demonstrate clear signs of growth.  The value of the province’s total oil production for 2017 significantly increased over the value for 2016, rising from $6.9 billion to $9.2 billion.  As well, there was an estimated $4 billion of investment in new exploration and development by the oil industry for 2017.  This was up 42 per cent from the previous year’s figure—an indicator of sustained interest and confidence from the industry, as well as market optimism.



Year-over-year employment in the sector has also grown: there were almost 34,000 direct and indirect person-years of employment in the upstream oil and gas industry forecast for 2017, up seven per cent from 2016.



In the Fraser Institute’s Annual Global Petroleum Survey in 2017, Saskatchewan ranked seventh out of 97 jurisdictions in the world, and second in Canada, in terms of overall attractiveness for oil and gas investment, and has consistently been among the top 10 over the past six surveys.



The oil and gas industry is responsible for an estimated 15 per cent of Saskatchewan’s gross domestic product.  One lease north of St. Walburg received a bonus bid of $1,111,916.78 for 129.500 hectares.  This lease was purchased by STOMP Energy Ltd. and is prospective for oil in the Mannville Group.  One of the exploration licences, located north of Shaunavon, was prospective for oil in the Upper Shaunavon while the other, located near Consul was prospective for gas in the Second White Specks.  Both exploration licences in southwest Saskatchewan received bonus bids totalling $540,831.52.



The next public offering of petroleum and natural gas rights will be held on June 5, 2018.


REGINA TO HOST 20TH ANNUAL SKILLS CANADA SASKATCHEWAN COMPETITION

More than 450 secondary and post-secondary students and apprentices from across the province will showcase their talents in the skilled trades and technologies at the 20th annual provincial skills competition hosted by Skills Canada Saskatchewan.



Events take place Friday, April 13 in Regina at Evraz Place Canada Centre and the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Regina Campus.  The competitions cover a wide array of skillsets: from robotics and website development to automotive technology and cabinetmaking.

“The Skills Canada Saskatchewan Competition gives our province’s young people the opportunity to demonstrate their remarkable abilities in the skilled trades and technologies,” Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said.  “To participate in this competition takes hard work and dedication, and I am confident these competitors will excel in whichever careers they choose.”



Gold medal winners may qualify to represent Saskatchewan at the Skills Canada National Competition in Edmonton in June.  This is an important year for competitors, since it is a qualifying year for the World Skills Competition to be held in Kazan, Russia in 2019.  World Skills Competitions are held only once every two years.



While taking in the competition, visitors can also attend the Try-a-Trade and Career Fair Expo, where they will be able to speak with industry experts and participate in hands-on activities to learn about the benefits of pursuing a career in the skilled trades and technologies.



“These skillsets open up so many career opportunities for our competitors,” Skills Canada Saskatchewan Executive Director Al Gabert said.  “While this competition gives young people a chance to show off what they’ve learned to their family members, mentors and potential employers, it also promotes a variety of rewarding careers to the public.”

“The provincial Skills Canada Saskatchewan competition showcases a broad range of fulfilling and rewarding careers that are available through a polytechnic education,” Saskatchewan Polytech President and CEO Dr. Larry Rosia said.  “The talent that will be on display at this event will be incredible.  Contestants will have the opportunity to demonstrate skills that equip them for rewarding careers, they’ll have the chance to advance and compete with the best skills talent in the country, and perhaps the world, and they’ll have the chance to build lasting relationships with leaders and peers from across the province.”



“Many of these competitors will become our province’s next generation of skilled tradespeople,” Skills Canada Saskatchewan Chair and Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission Chief Operating Officer Loreena Spilsted said.  “Events like this provide participants with lifelong skills and also shine a spotlight on the value of careers in the skilled trades.”



Friday, April 13: Competition & Try-a-Trade Expo held from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

  • Evraz Place, 1700 Elphinstone Street
  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic Regina Campus, 4500 Wascana Parkway

For competition details, visit https://www.skillscanadasask.com.

MOOSE JAW BUSINESS EXPO

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN MOOSE JAW

Saturday, April 14, 2018

What: Shop For A Cure! Charity Trade Show Fundraiser Event

Time:  8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 
Place: Minto United Church Hall
Free entry, cash donation at the door. 

What: Cobra Cheer – Year End Showcase

Time:  1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. 
Place: Vanier Collegiate Gym 
Open to the public. Tickets are available at the door, while they last. $5 per ticket, Children 5 & Under are Free.  Doors open at 12:30.

What: Historical Fiction Workshop with Local Author David Richards 
Time:  1:00  p.m. – 4:00  p.m. 
Place:  Western Development Museum 

What: Heartland Hospice BBQ fundraiser
Time:   5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 
Place:  Bugsy’s Bar & Grill 
On behalf of Lena Hartman, President of Heartland Hospice Moose Jaw and the HHMJ Board, I invite all friends (and friends of friends) to join us at a Barbecue Chicken Dinner Fundraiser  All ages are welcome. Families with underage children are invited to dine at the adjoining Smitty’s Restaurant from 5:00 to 7:00 pm., but must call ahead to reserve. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

What: Paint Nite Fundraiser – WDM Short Line 101 Track Repair
Time:   2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. 
Place:  Western Development Museum
Admission:  $45

Moose Jaw Express April 11, 2018

newsprint

Encouraging Signs of Growth

Saskatchewan’s economy continues to show signs of strength in many sectors.

Since the beginning of 2018 we see continued growth in population, merchandise exports, building permits and manufacturing sales.

Diversity in our export sector has helped increase the performance in merchandise exports. The total value of Saskatchewan merchandise exports in January 2018 was $2.77 billion. The latest figures released in March show that month to month, merchandise exports were up 10%, and year over year, they were up 4%, well ahead of most provinces.

Machinery manufacturing and wood products are driving growth in industrial sales.  Manufacturing sales in Saskatchewan increased by 5.7% in January 2018, compared to December 2017, to over $1.38 billion.  Once again in this sector, we are ahead nation-wide, as Saskatchewan ranked first in percentage change among the provinces.

There are promising signs for the construction industry with strong building permit numbers. Both residential and non-residential building permits have increased, with the greater increase in non-residential, up 42.6 % year-over-year in January to $105 million.

Entering the second quarter of the year, Saskatchewan can be confident in looking ahead to the remainder of 2018.  In its economic outlook, RBC projects Saskatchewan will lead Canada in economic growth in 2018 with a forecasted 2.9% growth in GDP. The province’s economy will benefit from recovery in the energy sector, as well as rising investment spending and expected rebounds in the agricultural and mining sectors. Their report notes secured potash contracts in China and India as contributing factors to growth. The growth in the mining sector is expected to have a positive effect on capital spending and the construction sector in Saskatchewan.

Our optimism in the mining sector is supported by 2017 Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies.  Saskatchewan was named top jurisdiction in North America for Mining Investment and the second most attractive in the world. The Fraser Institute’s Investment Attractiveness Index is based on two components: the geologic attractiveness of a region based on actual mineral potential, and its policy attractiveness in terms of the effects of government policy on attitudes toward exploration investment. In Saskatchewan we continue to work to reduce red tape wherever possible in order to attract investment in mining and various other sectors.

The Fraser Institute has also found that Saskatchewan has the highest performing labour market in Canada.

The reason we continue to encourage and pursue growth is to be able to provide the quality services the people of our province deserve. This has always been a key foundation of the Saskatchewan Party Government.  Economic growth produces more funding to be invested into vital services such as healthcare, education and social supports without leaving a burden of debt for future generations.  The optimism, initiative and courage of our people will keep Saskatchewan growing stronger.

[category newsprint-article]

[end]

Report from the Legislature

Summer at the Legislative Building

Report from the Legislature
April 5, 2018

From gas and groceries to clothing and other necessities, provinces across Canada are finding out how carbon taxes drive up costs and make it harder for families to make ends meet.

Not only do carbon taxes hurt families by making their day-to-day lives more expensive, they threaten their jobs by making our export-based economies less competitive in a global market.

While the NDP and the Trudeau Liberals want to put a carbon tax on the people of this province, our government is standing up to protect Saskatchewan jobs, industries and communities.

We are launching a legal challenge to new federal legislation that would impose a carbon tax on Saskatchewan through a legal reference case that will be taken to the Court of Appeal.

Other interested parties, including other provinces, can intervene in the case.

Other provinces may want to intervene regardless of their provincial climate change plans as this carbon tax legislation is an unprecedented case of the federal government interfering in provincial jurisdiction.

Both the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) have voted overwhelmingly to oppose a carbon tax.

At $50 per tonne, a carbon tax on Saskatchewan would cost as much as $2 billion to our economy; $1,250 per year for a Saskatchewan family of four; and $10 to $12 an acre for a farm family.

The federal government’s own documents say the carbon tax would have to reach $300 per tonne, not $50, to hit its targets. Saskatchewan people understand that this new tax just doesn’t add up.

If our stated goal is to reduce emissions, we know that a carbon tax is not the way to go.  Our industries are already taking action to reduce emissions and we will continue building on these efforts through a made-in-Saskatchewan climate change strategy that will be far more effective than a carbon tax.

Prairie Resilience: A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy focuses on climate resilience, emissions reductions and adapting to the effects of climate change – without implementing a carbon tax. The plan includes setting sector-specific output-based performance standards on large emitting facilities, such as those in oil and gas, and mining. We will reduce our emissions, but in a way that is economically sustainable and promotes growth.

Our Prairie Resilience plan is broader and bolder than a single policy approach and will achieve better results. It offers flexibility for emitters to comply with regulations and reduce emissions, including an offset system and technology fund, and recognizes emissions reductions initiatives that have already taken place.

As far as emissions reductions are concerned, Saskatchewan has a good story to tell. Since 2005, emissions intensity is down 8.8% (2016) while GDP is up 22%.

In agriculture, zero-till has offset 11.4 million tonnes and pulse crops offset 2 million tonnes.  21 million acres of grasslands plus wetlands and forest lands also act as carbon sinks.

Carbon Capture and Storage at Boundary Dam 3 has now captured 2 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road at a time when 1,600 coal plants are being built around the world.

Saskatchewan plans to double our renewable energy capacity to 50% – the most aggressive renewable energy target in Canada. Our province is also projected to have the second-largest reduction in emissions among the provinces.

Saskatchewan has a strong case against the imposition of a carbon tax. At a time when our government is pursuing real solutions to tackle climate change, we will continue to stand up for Saskatchewan people and fight the costly carbon tax plans of the NDP and the Trudeau Liberals.

From the Desk of Warren Michelson April 6, 2018

March 29, 2018 View this email in your browser
shield FROM THE DESK OF WARREN MICHELSON, MLA

Reservations Open April 9 for Saskatchewan Parks

Starting on Monday, April 9, campers can begin reserving sites in their favourite Saskatchewan provincial parks for the 2018 season.

“With a variety of activities available and an abundance of beautiful landscapes and lakes to explore, it’s no surprise our provincial parks continue to be popular travel destinations,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Gene Makowsky said.  “Whether you prefer adventure or relaxation, there’s so much to see, learn and discover.  We look forward to welcoming guests back to our parks for another memorable season.”


To help provide the best user experience possible during the reservation launch, staggered launch dates and a queuing system will be implemented again in 2018.  Over ten business days, one to three new parks will open for reservations each day at 7 a.m.

The 2018 launch schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, April 9 – Blackstrap, Pike Lake
  • Tuesday, April 10 – Buffalo Pound, Douglas, Danielson
  • Wednesday, April 11 – Echo Valley, Rowan’s Ravine
  • Thursday, April 12 – Duck Mountain, Good Spirit Lake, Greenwater Lake
  • Friday, April 13 – Crooked Lake, Moose Mountain
  • Monday, April 16 – Cypress Hills
  • Tuesday, April 17 – Saskatchewan Landing, The Battlefords
  • Wednesday, April 18 – Meadow Lake
  • Thursday, April 19 – Bronson Forest, Lac La Ronge, Makwa Lake
  • Friday, April 20 – Candle Lake, Great Blue Heron, Narrow Hills

From April 9-13 and April 16-20, the queue system will open at 6:40 a.m. daily.  To be placed in the queue, customers will need to log in to the reservation system between 6:40 a.m. and 7 a.m. (no sooner or later).  At 7 a.m., customers will receive a random number and will enter the reservation website to proceed with their booking.  Anyone accessing the reservation website after 7 a.m. will be placed at the end of the line.


By staggering the launch dates and utilizing the queue system, SaskParks is able to manage the high demand on the system to ensure technical stability and facilitate faster checkout times.  Campers are encouraged to prepare for the reservation launch in advance.





Customers can visit www.saskparks.goingtocamp.com to familiarize with the website, create or update their user account and view potential campsites that best fit their camping needs.


Transferable annual park entry permits can be purchased for $65 at the time of campsite reservations or at the park entry upon arrival; 1-day, 3-day and weekly park entry passes are also available.


More information about the launch including tutorials and booking tips is available at 
www.saskparks.com.  During launch, customers can contact the reservation call centre at 1-855-737-7275 or the SaskParks customer line at 1-800-205-7070 for assistance.  Email inquiries can be sent to parks.info@gov.sk.ca.


Saskatchewan Provincial Park campsites are in high demand.  Launch is the best time for campers to book trips to the park of their choice.


AUTOMATIC PST REFUNDS ON CERTAIN TYPES OF INSURANCE


Policy holders of crop, livestock, hail, margin/income, life and health insurance in Saskatchewan will soon receive a sales tax refund or credit from their insurance provider.  Refunds and credits are automatic, meaning no action is required of policy holders.


As announced February 26, 2018, Provincial Sales Tax (PST) no longer applies to the following types of insurance:

  • Individual and group life, health, disability, accident and sickness insurance; and
  • Crop, livestock, hail and margin/income insurance.

The PST exemption on these insurance products is retroactive to August 1, 2017, the date certain insurance premiums became taxable in Saskatchewan.


Insurance providers who collected and remitted the PST will calculate all refunds payable and either credit each policy holder’s account or provide a refund.


Policy holders do not have to request or submit a claim to their insurance provider or to the government to receive a refund or credit.  Most refunds or credits will be paid by June 30, 2018.


If you do not receive a refund or credit by that date, or have questions about the process, please contact your insurance provider.

Campotex cars filled with Saskatchewan Potash heading to the Vancouver port.

RECENT SNOWFALL INCREASES SPRING RUNOFF OUTLOOK


Today, the Water Security Agency (WSA) released the April spring runoff forecast.


Snowfall across most of Saskatchewan was well above normal in March, increasing the runoff potential across the province with northern and southern Saskatchewan showing two different outlooks.


Moisture conditions going into winter freeze-up were well below normal across southern Saskatchewan, with very little precipitation during summer and fall of 2017, and near to above normal across northern Saskatchewan.


Winter snow accumulation to April 1, 2018, was generally near average across Saskatchewan with the exception of an area south of the Cypress Hills and near the communities of Scott, Prince Albert and Hudson Bay, which have received above average accumulations.


Much of northern Saskatchewan is expecting to see an above normal spring runoff with areas around Scott, Hudson Bay and north of Prince Albert up to Waskesiu Lake likely to experience well above normal runoff.  Widespread flooding is not expected in these areas, but localized flooding, minor out of bank flows and overtopping of roadways could occur.


In southern Saskatchewan, most areas are likely to experience a below to well below normal spring runoff outside of an above normal pocket in the southwest corner near Eastend to Val Marie.


With below normal temperatures expected to occur across the province in early April, snowmelt runoff will be later than normal.  This increases the risk of a rapid melt that can result in higher than expected runoff and potentially some flood-related issues.


Some agricultural water supply issues began to emerge in late summer 2017.  In the areas where well below average 2018 snowmelt runoff is projected, these water supply shortages may intensify and expand to additional areas.


The snowpack over the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains is generally well above average for this time of year.  Lake Diefenbaker is currently 0.7 metres below its normal level for this time of year, but is expected to be at desirable summer operating levels by July.


WSA will continue to monitor the 2018 spring runoff conditions across Saskatchewan.  If warranted, further updates will be issued as the spring runoff progresses.


For more information on stream flows and lake levels, visit 
www.wsask.ca.


Lump Sum Pay at Retirement

The Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) wants to remind people that not all pension plans are the same and some have a lump sum payment upon retirement, while others provide a monthly pension cheque for life.


“It’s important for people to know if they will receive a lump sum payment or a monthly payment as that can effect retirement budgeting,” FCAA Pension Division Director Leah Fichter said.  “It can be stressful figuring out how to make a lump sum last the rest of your life.  There are resources available to help you.”


If you receive a lump sum payment, here are some points to consider:

  • Talk to a financial planner, a professional who has experience managing people’s retirement money.
  • Make a budget, so you can track your income and expenses.
  • Talk to your current pension plan administrator, so you can learn about retirement planning resources.
For more information on retirement planning, visit www.fcaa.gov.sk.ca/lumpsum

CONGRATULATIONS AND GOOD LUCK TEAM SASK!

REPORT FROM THE LEGISLATURE


From gas and groceries to clothing and other necessities, provinces across Canada are finding out how carbon taxes drive up costs and make it harder for families to make ends meet.


Not only do carbon taxes hurt families by making their day-to-day lives more expensive, they threaten their jobs by making our export-based economies less competitive in a global market.


While the NDP and the Trudeau Liberals want to put a carbon tax on the people of this province, our government is standing up to protect Saskatchewan jobs, industries and communities.


We are launching a legal challenge to new federal legislation that would impose a carbon tax on Saskatchewan through a legal reference case that will be taken to the Court of Appeal.


Other interested parties, including other provinces, can intervene in the case.


Other provinces may want to intervene regardless of their provincial climate change plans as this carbon tax legislation is an unprecedented case of the federal government interfering in provincial jurisdiction.


Both the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) have voted overwhelmingly to oppose a carbon tax.


At $50 per tonne, a carbon tax on Saskatchewan would cost as much as $2 billion to our economy; $1,250 per year for a Saskatchewan family of four; and $10 to $12 an acre for a farm family.


The federal government’s own documents say the carbon tax would have to reach $300 per tonne, not $50, to hit its targets. Saskatchewan people understand that this new tax just doesn’t add up.


If our stated goal is to reduce emissions, we know that a carbon tax is not the way to go.  Our industries are already taking action to reduce emissions and we will continue building on these efforts through a made-in-Saskatchewan climate change strategy that will be far more effective than a carbon tax.

Prairie Resilience: A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy focuses on climate resilience, emissions reductions and adapting to the effects of climate change – without implementing a carbon tax. The plan includes setting sector-specific output-based performance standards on large emitting facilities, such as those in oil and gas, and mining. We will reduce our emissions, but in a way that is economically sustainable and promotes growth.


Our Prairie Resilience plan is broader and bolder than a single policy approach and will achieve better results. It offers flexibility for emitters to comply with regulations and reduce emissions, including an offset system and technology fund, and recognizes emissions reductions initiatives that have already taken place.


As far as emissions reductions are concerned, Saskatchewan has a good story to tell. Since 2005, emissions intensity is down 8.8% (2016) while GDP is up 22%.


In agriculture, zero-till has offset 11.4 million tonnes and pulse crops offset 2 million tonnes.  21 million acres of grasslands plus wetlands and forest lands also act as carbon sinks.


Carbon Capture and Storage at Boundary Dam 3 has now captured 2 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road at a time when 1,600 coal plants are being built around the world.


Saskatchewan plans to double our renewable energy capacity to 50% – the most aggressive renewable energy target in Canada. Our province is also projected to have the second-largest reduction in emissions among the provinces.


Saskatchewan has a strong case against the imposition of a carbon tax. At a time when our government is pursuing real solutions to tackle climate change, we will continue to stand up for Saskatchewan people and fight the costly carbon tax plans of the NDP and the Trudeau Liberals.


Take Precautions Against Hantavirus

Health officials are reminding residents about the risk of hantavirus this spring in areas potentially infested by rodents.  People are most often exposed when cleaning up enclosed buildings (such as grain bins, sheds, barns, garages, trailers, cottages and homes) or farm equipment and vehicles after winter.


“You can get hantavirus by breathing in contaminated airborne particles from the droppings, urine and saliva of infected deer mice,” Saskatchewan’s Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker said.  “Hantavirus can cause a rare, but often fatal lung illness known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.”


Symptoms usually start within one to six weeks of exposure and include fever, muscle aches, cough, headaches, nausea and vomiting.  Some people develop severe symptoms that can be life threatening.  Seek medical attention immediately if you have a cough, fever and shortness of breath.


To avoid exposure to hantavirus, be aware of mouse droppings and nesting materials and take the following precautions when cleaning infested areas:

  • Ventilate the building by opening doors and windows for at least 30 minutes before cleaning;
  • Use wet mopping methods and wear rubber or plastic gloves;
  • Wear goggles and a well-fitting N-95 type filter mask when cleaning areas contaminated by droppings in a confined space;
  • Dampen areas contaminated with rodent droppings with bleach disinfectant and remove droppings with a damp mop or cloth;
  • Avoid using dry cleaning methods such as dusting, sweeping, vacuuming or air-hosing;
  • Steam clean, shampoo or spray upholstered furniture with a detergent, disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water; andWash clothes and bedding with detergent in hot water.
Also, take steps to reduce rodent infestations:
  • Block openings that might allow rodents to enter a building;
  • Store human and animal food, water and garbage in containers with tightly fitted lids; and
  • Move woodpiles or other potential hiding places for mice away from your home.

There have been 31 people with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome reported in Saskatchewan since 1994, 10 of whom died.

For more information on hantavirus, visit the government website at www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/health/diseases-and-conditions/hantavirus and HealthLine Online at www.healthlineonline.ca.

For advice on symptoms or when to seek care, call HealthLine 811.


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN MOOSE JAW

Friday, April 6, 2018

What:  MJ Warriors vs Swift Current
Time:   7:00 p.m.
Place: 
Mosaic Place

What:  The Louisiana Hayride Show 
Time:    7:30 P.M. 
Place:   Mae Wilson

Saturday, April 7, 2018

What: Cosmo Senior Citizens’ Centre Craft Sale
Time:  9:00 a.m. – 3:00 pm
Place: Cosmo Senior Citizens’ Centre
Cost:  Free Admission

What: Moose and District Seniors Social Dance
Time:   8:00 pm
Place:  Timothy Eaton Centre

What: Business Expo Moose Jaw

Time:   10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Place:  Moose Jaw Exhibition Centre

What: Bowling Fundraiser

Time:   6:00 p.m. 
Place:  Bugsy’s Pub

Sunday, April 8, 2018

What:  Cosmo’s Craft & Trade Sale
Time:   9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. 
Place:   Cosmo Centre
Admission:  Free

What: Business Expo Moose Jaw

Time:  10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Place: Moose Jaw Exhibition Centre

What:  Rowletta Spring Supoer
Time:   4:00 p.m. – 7:00 pm
Place:   Rowletta Civic Centre
Cost:  Adults $15  Under 10  $7
Tickets available at the door or
contact Bonnie @306-631-6534 or Dusti @ 306-690-9186

Upcoming Events:Tuesday April 1, 2018

PROVINCIAL BUDGET 

Moose Jaw Express April 4, 2018

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Standing Up for Saskatchewan

The Spring Sitting of the Legislature will resume next week after a break for Easter and our team of MLAs from across the province remains focused on standing up for Saskatchewan. Premier Moe has led by example, demonstrating his leadership in the areas of pipeline development, finding solutions to the grain transportation backlog and fighting the imposition of a carbon tax on Saskatchewan.

Recently, the Legislative Assembly was shocked to hear the Leader of the Opposition describe our government’s fight against the Trudeau carbon tax as a “costly and pointless crusade”. Saskatchewan people know that a carbon tax would hurt agriculture and industries that drive our economy, and they understand how it will drive up costs while doing nothing to reduce global emissions. The NDP’s new leader wants to force a carbon tax on Saskatchewan but you can rest assured that whether it’s Ryan Meili or Justin Trudeau, our government will fight the imposition of a carbon tax every step of the way.

While we disagree with the Prime Minister on the carbon tax file, there were positive discussions with Premier Moe during the P.M.’s recent visit to Saskatchewan. For example, his assurance that the Trans Mountain pipeline will be built was welcome news. We will continue to work together with our federal counterparts on international trade, and to promote Canadian exports.

The rail shipment backlog for the 2017 harvest continues to be a pressure issue, as it was in 2013. Our government remains actively engaged and is working with the federal government and rail companies to find solutions to what has become a significant concern for all of Saskatchewan. Railways and the federal government need to do more to proactively address this challenge. Getting more pipelines built to take oil off of rail will make moving energy resources safer, more efficient, and environmentally sustainable, and would provide more access to get Saskatchewan grain to market.

A strong export-based economy requires strong trade relationships. India’s High Commissioner to Canada recently visited our province, providing an opportunity for Premier Moe and our government to promote our top industries. Saskatchewan’s trade with India has nearly doubled in the past decade and we will continue to find ways to improve our valuable trade relationship.

Our population numbers are a good indication of the strength of the economy and the most recent statistics show another all-time record. Saskatchewan’s population was estimated to be 1,169,752 as of January 1, 2018, up 13,410 people from the previous year, as our province continues to grow.

Our province could not continue to grow and support a higher population without construction in all its forms. This week, April 11–17, is Saskatchewan Construction Week. Whether it is the houses we live in, the schools our children attend, the hospitals providing health services, the roads we drive on, the bridges we cross, or the industries that improve our economy, construction is part of our every day lives.

There are 13,735 businesses in Saskatchewan’s construction sector, our second largest private sector employer with over 50,000 employees in 2017. These are extremely important economic and social contributions. There will be events across the province to celebrate Saskatchewan Construction Week. Of note is the Provincial Skills Competition in Regina; good luck to all the participants.

Our construction workers, our educators, our retailers, our health care workers, our industries, service organizations and volunteers; the people of our province come together to make Saskatchewan better every day. Our government will stand with our great people to defend Saskatchewan’s interests.

Report from the Legislature March 29, 2018

Summer at the Legislative Building

Our government recently announced the creation of a financial literacy curriculum for students across Saskatchewan. For the first time, students will be able to use financial literacy as a credit towards their graduation. Students taking these classes will learn the basics of personal finances, and why it is important to have that knowledge as they get closer to adulthood. The curriculum for these classes will be written soon, with full implementation in our schools by September 2019.

The Government of Saskatchewan has also taken steps to equip children with more knowledge and skills in coding and robotics to help prepare them for emerging careers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. The future will be even more dependent on technology and computing, so the curriculum in our schools should reflect that, and help our growing tech sector here at home.

Another example of our commitment to the future of our students and our province is the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship (SAS). The scholarship is expected to help over 21,000 Saskatchewan students reduce their tuition costs this year.

The SAS provides eligible high school grads up to $500 per year towards tuition at post-secondary institutions in the province.  Since the program was introduced in 2012, nearly 90,000 scholarships have been awarded to support more than 40,000 students.

Over the past ten years, the province has invested close to $8.4 billion in post-secondary education and student supports. This includes the Graduate Retention Program which provides income tax credits of up to $20,000 for graduates who live and work in Saskatchewan.

During a decade of growth, more and more students found opportunity to stay in Saskatchewan for work, to further their education, to start their careers, raise their families and build a life. The growth of our province continues today with our population increasing by 13,410 people over the past year.  This marks 47 consecutive quarters of population growth and shows a correlation between the abundance of opportunities in Saskatchewan and people making the decision to settle here.

Saskatchewan continues to see growth in our population drive growth in our economy.  Manufacturing sales are up 5.7 per cent this month compared to last and our forestry industry is emerging as one of the province’s strongest growth sectors.

Prices for all forest products were very strong in 2017, reaching their highest levels since 2005. Prices are forecast to remain high over the next several years, largely due to strong demand from major export markets. The sector supports a total of more than 8,400 jobs, approximately 30 per cent of which are held by Indigenous people. Full development of the sector has the potential to generate more than $2 billion annually in forest products sales and support a total of more than 13,000 jobs.

So far this spring, the new leader of the NDP has shown a shocking lack of support for Saskatchewan jobs. Ryan Meili recently described Saskatchewan’s fight against the Trudeau carbon tax as a “costly and pointless crusade.”  What is “costly and pointless” is a carbon tax that would increase costs for families and the industries that drive our economy while doing nothing to reduce global emissions.

Your Saskatchewan Party government has a plan to balance the budget and keep our economy strong. In contrast, Ryan Meili and the NDP have a plan to add $2.5 billion in new spending each and every year. While they have promised to increase income tax and stand ready to force a carbon tax on Saskatchewan, it’s not clear how they intend to pay for their reckless and runaway spending.

While the NDP is waving the white flag and clearing the path for a carbon tax, their refusal to acknowledge the costs of their irresponsible spending is a prescription for economic disaster. This is weak leadership and it proves that Ryan Meili and the NDP are still completely out-of-touch with reality, the needs of our economy and the priorities of Saskatchewan people.

From the Desk of Warren Michelson March 29, 2018

March 29, 2018 View this email in your browser
shield FROM THE DESK OF WARREN MICHELSON, MLA

Happy Easter
We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection as our reassurance that there is light and life after suffering, darkness and death.  As spring brings about new life in nature, by God’s grace, we too can change to become more caring, considerate and generous.
Debbie and I wish everyone a Blessed Easter.

The Sun Rising on the First Day of Spring

Another All-Time Population Record
Population was estimated to be 1,169,752 as of January 1, 2018, up 13,410 people from January 2017, another all-time record. 


There were 1,695 more people living in Saskatchewan in the fourth quarter of 2017, continuing the trend of population increases.  Between October 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018, international migration was up by 2,272.  Natural increases (births over deaths) were up 1,203 over this period.
 


“This is the 47th consecutive quarter that Saskatchewan has had a quarterly population increase,” Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said.  “There is a correlation between the abundance of job and business opportunities in Saskatchewan and people making the decision to settle here.”
 


International migration was up 14,836, and natural increases were up 6,033 over the year.
 


“Record population numbers are good news for our economy,” Harrison said.  “It shows we are a destination of choice, especially for international migration, which helps meet some of the needs of our labour market.”


Equipping our Students


Our government recently announced the creation of a financial literacy curriculum for students across Saskatchewan. For the first time, students will be able to use financial literacy as a credit towards their graduation. Students taking these classes will learn the basics of personal finances, and why it is important to have that knowledge as they get closer to adulthood. The curriculum for these classes will be written soon, with full implementation in our schools by September 2019.


The Government of Saskatchewan has also taken steps to equip children with more knowledge and skills in coding and robotics to help prepare them for emerging careers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. The future will be even more dependent on technology and computing, so the curriculum in our schools should reflect that, and help our growing tech sector here at home.

Another example of our commitment to the future of our students and our province is the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship (SAS). The scholarship is expected to help over 21,000 Saskatchewan students reduce their tuition costs this year.

The SAS provides eligible high school grads up to $500 per year towards tuition at post-secondary institutions in the province.  Since the program was introduced in 2012, nearly 90,000 scholarships have been awarded to support more than 40,000 students.


Over the past ten years, the province has invested close to $8.4 billion in post-secondary education and student supports. This includes the Graduate Retention Program which provides income tax credits of up to $20,000 for graduates who live and work in Saskatchewan.


Congratulations to our local Ford Dealerships

Congratulations to both of our Ford dealerships on their awards from the Ford Motor Company of Canada.  Moose Jaw Ford won the Diamond Club Award.  They have consistently won Ford’s highest achievement, and have done it again this year.


Knight Ford was recognized with the 2017 President’s award for outstanding achievement in sales and customer satisfaction.




I was honored to meet our new Lieutenant Governor,
His Honour W. Thomas Molloy

Groups and Organizations Receive More Than $2 Million in Charitable Gaming Grants


The latest quarterly payment of charitable gaming grants by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) has provided more than $2 million to more than 800 groups and organizations across the province.


“Groups and organizations that raise funds through charitable gaming activities receive additional dollars through the charitable gaming grant program,” Minister Responsible for SLGA Gene Makowsky said.  “Our government is pleased to be able to help support service clubs, volunteer first responders, senior and youth groups and so many other important organizations focused on helping their communities.”


In this quarter Moose Jaw and surrounding area received $117,971.  The quarterly grants are based on a percentage of net proceeds raised through licensed charitable gaming activities, such as bingos, raffles, breakopen tickets, and Texas Hold’em poker and Monte Carlo events.


Charitable gaming reports submitted by groups are used by SLGA to automatically calculate grants.


Saskatchewan Forestry Sector Exceeds
$1 Billion in Sales for 2017
Saskatchewan continues to see growth in our population drive growth in our economy.  Manufacturing sales are up 5.7 per cent this month compared to last and our forestry industry is emerging as one of the province’s strongest growth sectors.


Prices for all forest products were very strong in 2017, reaching their highest levels since 2005. Prices are forecast to remain high over the next several years, largely due to strong demand from major export markets. The sector supports a total of more than 8,400 jobs, approximately 30 per cent of which are held by Indigenous people. Full development of the sector has the potential to generate more than $2 billion annually in forest products sales and support a total of more than 13,000 jobs.


$388 Million Agreement Invests in Saskatchewan Agriculture

Canada’s hard-working farmers and food processors are the foundation of the economy and continue to see a growing global demand for their world-class products.  Federal, provincial and territorial governments are working together to give farmers and food processors the support they need to meet these demands.


Today, the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan announced Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program details for the agricultural sector in Saskatchewan.  The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a $3 billion, five year investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to help Canada’s agricultural sector innovate, grow and prosper.


The Canadian Agriculture Partnership agreement will see $388 million invested in strategic agricultural initiatives in Saskatchewan over the next five years.  The agreement between Canada and Saskatchewan provides for priority programming to support the provincial agriculture sector.
The agreement is effective April 1, 2018, and replaces the Growing Forward 2 (GF2) framework.  The federal government contributes 60 per cent and the province funds 40 per cent of each dollar spent.


The Saskatchewan cost-shared program suite will make investments in strategic initiatives to drive outcomes in six priority areas over the next five years.

  1. Science, Research and Innovation: $191.5 million investment to build on Saskatchewan’s competitive advantages by advancing science and research capacity.
  2. Environment and Climate Change: $70.5 million to support the long-term resiliency and sustainability of the sector.
  3. Risk Management: $48 million to support the sustainability of the sector by anticipating, mitigating and responding to risks.
  4. Value-Added Agriculture: $30 million to support growth in the value-added and agri-food processing sector.
  5. Public Trust: $8.5 million to support public trust initiatives.
  6. Trade and Market Development: $7.5 million to assist industry in expanding domestic and international trade opportunities.

Additional investments of $32 million will be allocated to activities delivered by the federal government on behalf of the province.


The partnership includes a complete and effective suite of business risk-management programs to help farmers manage risks that threaten the viability of their farm.


For more information on CAP programs and application details, visit 
www.saskatchewan.ca/CAP or visit www.agr.gc.ca/eng/about-us/key-departmental-initiatives/canadian-agricultural-partnership


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN MOOSE JAW
Our office will be closed on Good Friday, March 31.Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday Services at most Moose Jaw Churches.

What: Good Friday Services  Sponsored by Moose Jaw Fellowship for
Evangelism

Time:  9:00 a.m.(includes communion) and  11:00 a.m.  
Place: Hillcrest Apostolic Church
All are welcome.  Children’s program at both services.

What: TLC Art and Craft Fair
Time:  1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Place: Moose Jaw Exhibition Centre

Cost:  $5

Saturday, March 31, 2018

What: TLC Art and Craft Fair

Time:  10:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Place: Moose Jaw Exhibition Centre

Cost:  $5

What: Warriors Playoff Game vs Prince Albert Raiders
Time:  7:00 p.m.
Place: Mosaic Place

Sunday, April 1, 2018

What:  Easter Funday for Families
Time:   1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Place: Western Development Museum
Cost:  Regular Admission

What:  Easter Egg Hunt
Time:   2:00 pm
Place:  Kinsmen Sportplex
Cost:  Regular Admission

Upcoming Events

April 2 – 6:  Kinsmen Sportsplex  School Break Activity Club and Extended Swim


Times
March 31 – April 9:  Western Development Museum short films


April 7, 2018
What: 
Cosmo Senior Citizens’ Centre Craft Sale
Time:   9:00 a.m. – 3:00 pm
Place: Cosmo Senior Citizens’ Centre
Cost:  Free Admission

What:  Moose and District Seniors Social Dance
Time:    8:00 pm
Place: Timothy Eaton Centre

April 7 & 8, 2018
What: Business Expo Moose Jaw

Time:  10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Place: Moose Jaw Exhibition Centre

April 8, 2018
What:  Rowletta Spring Supoer
Time:   4:00 p.m. – 7:00 pm
Place: Rowletta Civic Centre
Cost:  Adults $15  Under 10  $7
Tickets available at the door or
contact Bonnie @306-631-6534 or Dusti @ 306-690-9186

Moose Jaw Express March 28, 2018

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Easter’s Promise

Happy Easter.  For those of the Christian faith, Easter is the most important celebration of the year when we recall the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We celebrate his resurrection as our reassurance that there is light and life after suffering, darkness and death.  As spring brings about new life in nature, by God’s grace, we too can change to become more caring, considerate and generous.

Caring for the most vulnerable in our communities is what social workers do every day.  It was Social Work Week in Saskatchewan as I prepared this column.  It highlighted what social workers do for the people of Saskatchewan and recognized the value of social work as a profession.  They work with individuals and families with complex needs and must interact with many different agencies.  Their responsibilities range from adoptions to services for seniors, and many situations in between.

Income assistance is a significant role of the Ministry of Social Services.  Income assistance is not a one-size-fits-all, blanket approach.  The Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) is a program for families and individuals who for various reasons, including disability, illness, low-income or unemployment, cannot meet their basic living costs.  The Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) is an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities.  It offers individuals the dignity of greater choice of services and participation in their community.  The Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) provides financial support to people who are participating in pre-employment services, or those who are job-ready and seeking employment.  The Seniors Income Plan (SIP) provides senior citizens with the financial assistance required to meet their basic needs.  The Personal Care Home Benefit (PCHB) offers financial assistance to seniors to help with the cost of living in a licensed personal care home.  Individuals and families who are on these programs also qualify for extended health benefits.

While there is always more to be done, and our province strives to provide the best service possible while being fiscally responsible, the Saskatchewan Party government has made significant investments into social supports.  These include:

  • Increasing in the Income Assistance budget by more than $250 million since 2007;
  • Creating the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability program in 2009 and increasing its benefits four times since its creation;
  • Tripling the Seniors Income Plan from $90/month to $270/month; and
  • Increasing the shelter allowances in our Income Assistance programs 9 times.

I commend and thank all the social workers of our province, and all involved in the Ministry of Social Services for the essential services they provide.

Congratulations to local curler, Marie Wright, and the Team Canada Paralympics Curling Team.  They won bronze in Pyeongchang last week, an incredible accomplishment for the team.  Congratulations to the Warriors for not only capturing 1st place in the East Division but also 1st place in the Western Hockey League, earning them the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy.  Good luck in the playoffs.  Go Warriors Go!

Debbie and I wish everyone a Happy Easter, surrounded by family and friends, and filled with the joy of new life.

Report from the Legislature March 22, 2018

Summer at the Legislative Building

There is new leadership in the legislature but the first few weeks of the Spring Sitting have revealed that some things never change.

At a time when our government is on track to balance the budget, the new leader of the NDP has put forward a new $2.5 billion platform. Not only has the NDP endorsed a plan that would add $2.5 billion in new spending every year, they have yet to unveil a realistic way to pay for their promises.

It is possible but unlikely that the NDP carbon tax plan for Saskatchewan could cover this kind of reckless spending.

The NDP’s new leader has described our fight against the Trudeau carbon tax as a “costly and pointless crusade.”  What is “costly and pointless” is a carbon tax that will hurt the industries that drive our economy and make it harder to make ends meet while doing nothing to reduce global emissions.

Your Saskatchewan Party government won’t wave the white flag and let Justin Trudeau, Ryan Meili, or anyone else force their costly carbon tax plans on our province.  Our government will stand with Saskatchewan people, defend Saskatchewan’s interests and fight the carbon tax.

Meanwhile our government remains actively engaged and is working with the federal government to resolve issues like the grain backlog – a major concern for all of Saskatchewan.  The approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline is a step toward reducing the amount of oil transported by rail, freeing up needed space for grain.  We support the Alberta government’s threat to turn off the taps to B.C. in an effort to overcome that government’s delay tactics on the project.

A strong export-based economy requires strong trade relationships. India’s High Commissioner to Canada recently visited our province, providing an opportunity for us to promote our top industries. Saskatchewan’s trade with India has nearly doubled in the past decade.  Maintaining a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship is important to allowing trade to continue to grow.

Additionally, our government has also offered the Prime Minister assistance to ensure our trading relationship with the United States remain strong.  While the provincial and federal governments don’t agree on everything, trade is a front where a united Canada is stronger than a divided one, especially with uncertainty over the renegotiation or cancellation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The continued focus on these important issues has allowed Saskatchewan to experience so much positive growth in the past and will carry us into the future.  RBC’s Economic Outlook has upgraded Saskatchewan’s growth forecast to 2.9% this year, the highest of any province in Canada.

While the leadership in the legislature has changed, the choice remains clear: our government’s strong leadership, strong record of economic growth and our commitment to stand up and defend Saskatchewan’s interests or the NDP’s weak leadership, weak record on the economy and out-of-control spending.