From the Desk of Warren Michelson July 10, 2020
|July 10, 2020||View this email in your browser|
|FROM THE DESK OF WARREN MICHELSON, MLA|
Saskatchewan’s Free Fishing Weekend Is July 11 And 12
Saskatchewan’s annual summer free fishing weekend is July 11 and 12. On this weekend, residents and visitors can fish in any of Saskatchewan’s public waters open to sport fishing, no licence required.
“Free fishing weekend is a great opportunity to spend time outdoors to discover – or re-discover – the wonderful angling opportunities our province offers,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said. “In Saskatchewan, you can stay close to home while enjoying some of the best freshwater fishing in the world.”
During free fishing weekend, all other fishing regulations remain in effect. As well, anglers must respect current public health orders and guidance to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Travel restrictions may be in effect for some areas, so please check your destination before leaving home. Free fishing weekend does not apply in national parks. Anyone planning on taking fish out of the province must purchase a licence.
More information about fishing in Saskatchewan, including the 2020 Anglers Guide and updates about angling during the pandemic, is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/fishing.
Saskatchewan’s first free fishing weekend was held in the summer of 1989, to encourage people to try sport fishing and to highlight the variety of angling opportunities in the province.
In 2015, the province held its first winter free fishing weekend, which is now also an annual event. Each year, more than a quarter of a million people sport fish in Saskatchewan.
CANADA DAY CAR SHOW
Thank you Moose Jaw Express for hosting such a great Canada Day event for Moose Jaw. The downtown core was hopping with scavenger hunters, show n’ shine participants and customers waiting to fill their bellies with Full Bellies Breakfast, Burgers and Fries.
It was an honor to participate in the Moose Jaw Express Canada Day Car Show with my 65 Pontiac Parisienne. I appreciated the invitation, thank you.
Congratulations to all Car Show winners, People’s Choice winners, and the Scavenger Hunt winners!
ATTENDING CHURCH DIFFERENTLY
Attending places of worship is slightly different these days, however it is still enjoyable.
My last day before retirement at the Legislative building.
I was honored to have my family at my side for my farewell speech.
Moose Jaw Express July 8, 2020
Support Small Business Every Day
Familiar summer scenery greets me here on High Street as I arrive at our office each day; pylons and barricades indicating construction and road closures. It is said that there are two seasons in Saskatchewan: winter and construction. While it is encouraging to see necessary work being done to our roads and water mains, unfortunately, the impact to our local businesses can be significant.
I recognize the struggles many local businesses are going through. When the street in front of our office was closed for water main replacement just a year ago, businesses saw their sales decline. The businesses affected by construction this year have also had the unprecedented impact of COVID-19.
This is probably the most challenging time small businesses have seen since the 1930s and it is of major importance to support our local community businesses. I received an email from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) encouraging shopping local and supporting our small businesses. Their survey indicated seven out of ten business owners are worried that customers won’t come back and many are still struggling to pay bills. Thus, the CFIB has launched their #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign. At SmallBusinessEveryDay.ca, consumers will find a series of doable challenges like walking to a local business and buying a treat for a neighbour. #SmallBusinessEveryDay reminds us that small actions like buying a cupcake or a cup of coffee, finding a local business or recommending a business to others on social media can make a big difference to small business survival.
Saskatchewan businesses fared better than many across the country. Saskatchewan kept more of our economy open throughout the pandemic than most other provinces and as a result, 87 per cent of Saskatchewan workers remained employed, the highest percentage in Canada. In May, Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate was the second-lowest in Canada. Saskatchewan closed down less of its economy than other provinces and was the first province to release a plan for reopening its economy.
Financial support from all levels of government are helping businesses survive. The city of Moose Jaw offered a $500.00, one-time property tax credit to Moose Jaw businesses. Applications for the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment are open until July 31. The federal government has also come forward with their small business program.
The Moose Jaw Chamber of Commerce was quick to respond early in the crisis to assist small businesses. They provide a number of online learning opportunities and think tanks to help in managing a business through the pandemic. The COVID-19 Resources page on their website, www.mjchamber.com/covid-19-resources, offers a very helpful list of links to all the support programs for businesses. Their latest initiative, in partnership with Tourism Moose Jaw and other businesses, is encouraging Pop-Up Patios and Outdoor Shops to generate support for small businesses and eating establishments.
Small businesses are crucial to our local economy. Close to one-third of workers in Saskatchewan are employed by small businesses. The variety of services offered by small businesses adds vibrancy to our community. It takes hard work and courage to take risks to run a small business. In the end, we all need to show our support and purchase their services for them to survive and to thrive. They are community builders and our friends and neighbours. Please check out SmallBusinessEveryDay.ca and support our local Moose Jaw businesses.
Report from the Legislature July 2, 2020
Your Saskatchewan Party government is working to secure a strong economic recovery after the impacts of COVID-19. This means moving forward with investments and projects that will benefit families and communities for generations to come.
One such project will fulfill the vision of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker by irrigating up to 500,000 acres of land from Lake Diefenbaker, more than doubling the irrigable land in Saskatchewan. This three-phase project will boost regional economic development through increased crop production and value-added processing.
Lake Diefenbaker is a major resource to us and being able to fulfil this vision will add to the Saskatchewan Advantage. $22.5 million for preliminary engineering and initial construction is part of an approximately $4 billion investment over the next decade.
The first phase will include the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing Westside irrigation canal system which will increase the amount of irrigable land by 80,000 acres in the area. 90 per cent of the canal is already in place, making this the most shovel-ready irrigation project for the province.
The second phase will see further expansion and buildout of the Westside Irrigation Project. Upon its completion, there will be 260,000 acres of irrigable land. Once fully built and developed, more land will be made available for irrigation near Macrorie, Milden, Zealandia, Delisle and Asquith.
The third and final phase will see buildout of the Qu’Appelle South Irrigation Project, adding an estimated 120,000 acres of irrigable land. This will provide the Moose Jaw-Regina Corridor and southern Saskatchewan with a secure source of water for the next century.
Not only will this project improve Saskatchewan’s quality of life, it will also generate an estimated 25,000 person-years of employment over the next ten years. Our government plans to work closely with the industry to ensure this legacy project is a success.
Saskatchewan people have been exceptional in their efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus, something I hope to see continue in the weeks and months ahead. Our government recently announced the remaining opening dates of Phase 4 to Re-Open Saskatchewan. Our communities have made exceptional efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus, and I hope to see this success carry through to the future.
Starting July 6, indoor pools, rinks and performing art spaces can open with a return to indoor sports and activities. As part of this, restaurant capacity limits can also be removed. As a government, we are grateful for the efforts and level of care we have seen from restaurants across the province. They adapted quickly to new health standards and have been able to keep customers safe and well-served.
Starting July 9, casinos and bingo halls in Saskatchewan can resume operation with social distancing still as important as it was at the beginning of this pandemic. July 16 has also been set as a target date to allow for live entertainment, rodeos and racetracks. Guidelines are currently being developed for these venues.
Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions are well into their fall planning stages, and we will continue to communicate with them on health guidelines and restrictions.
Thanks to the cooperation of our communities, Saskatchewan’s response and recovery from COVID-19 has been successful so far. Guidelines on our Re-Open Saskatchewan plan are available online and I would encourage all residents to remind themselves of new protocols for the coming weeks and months at www.saskatchewan.ca.
A 3-week legislative sitting to present and pass Canada’s first provincial or federal budget in a post-COVID reality is nearing an end. I’m pleased to say Budget 2020-21 includes record investments in health, in schools and in infrastructure that will get Saskatchewan people back to work in the weeks and months ahead. You can learn more about these important investments online at Saskatchewan.ca/budget.
Moose Jaw Express July 1, 2020
My Final Week in the Legislative Assembly
Happy Canada Day.
Thank you to the innovation and determination of those who ensured COVID-19 would not stop a safe and socially distant Moose Jaw Canada Day celebration. Thank you to Moose Jaw Express/Moose Jaw Today, local businesses and the Kinsmen for your efforts and for making this year’s fireworks possible.
The current session of the legislature officially comes to a close on Friday, July 3rd. This is my final sitting of the Assembly as your MLA and these final few weeks are much different than anything I could have imagined.
The Legislative Assembly was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and re-convened June 15 for a three-week session. The resumption of the Assembly was important to continue the operations of Government on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan. It is a very different experience with only 10 government members and five opposition members in the Assembly at any time to ensure safe physical distancing. Those not in the Assembly participate by video connection. The main priority has been the introduction, debate and passage of the 2020-2021 provincial budget. At the same time, other important work is also being completed.
The Government of Saskatchewan introduced The Police Amendment Act, 2020 as an initial step to improving police oversight in Saskatchewan. Amendments were also brought forward to The Miscellaneous Municipal Statutes Amendment Act, 2019, that will better protect the rights of legal firearm and handgun owners within the province.
The reduction in provincial revenues and additional costs related to the pandemic have resulted in a $2.4 billion deficit forecast for 2020-21 Budget. While the 2020-21 deficit is significant, it is much smaller than the deficits expected in many other provinces this fiscal year. Revenue is forecast to be down $1.2 billion, or about eight per cent from last year, a result of the shuttering of domestic and global economies to contain the spread of COVID-19, combined with the oil price collapse.
The budget will, however, provide increased investment in the health, education and social support services that the people of our province need. Investments in infrastructure will stimulate the Saskatchewan economy, and incentives will help our businesses and industries recover.
The provincial budget includes a record-setting 11 per cent increase in no-strings-attached municipal revenue sharing. The Municipal Economic Enhancement Program (MEEP) will provide an additional $150 million to municipalities for shovel-ready, local projects and investments to further stimulate the economy. The City of Moose Jaw will receive close to $7,000,000 in municipal revenue sharing and almost $5,000,000 as part of the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program.
The 2020-21 Saskatchewan Budget meets the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Saskatchewan’s economy recovers, our revenues will also recover and we will get back to balance in the coming years without having to cut programs and services.
Although this legislative sitting will be completed this week, I look forward to continuing to represent the constituents of Moose Jaw North until the time a provincial election is called. It has always been very rewarding to be able to serve the people of Moose Jaw and to bring the concerns of constituents to the appropriate Government Ministries. It is an honour to recognize special events, community milestones and people of significant notoriety. I remain committed to doing so in these final months of my term as your MLA. Please contact us if we can serve you in any of these topics by calling our office at 306-692-8884 or emailing email@example.com
Report from the Legislature June 25th, 2020
Despite economic turmoil, Saskatchewan has remained on track to recover from the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic. S&P Global Ratings has affirmed Saskatchewan’s AA credit rating, proving that despite the effects of COVID-19, Saskatchewan is well-positioned for growth as we re-open our economy and recover from the pandemic.
Soon our province will begin the second part of Phase 4 of Re-Open Saskatchewan, allowing libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres and live theatres to re-open. Plans to re-open indoor pools, indoor rinks, indoor sports and activities, casinos and bingo halls will be announced over the coming weeks. Event theatres may operate at 30 per cent capacity, and up to 150 people.
Over the weekend, parks and campgrounds will be able to open to 100 per cent capacity for overnight stays and limited-term campsites. Access can now be provided to washroom and shower facilities. Please be patient as there will be increased cleaning and disinfection protocols and expectations.
We understand that many residents are getting excited to be back outside and be active. In this phase, outdoor sports can continue to resume with some revisions. Outdoor sporting events where physical distancing can be maintained can resume. For sports that include full contact play, mini-leagues with modified player participation should be formed to allow teams to safely return to playing games, while helping mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The 2020-21 Budget provides record investment into our schools. It will provide $2.6 billion for the Ministry of Education, an increase of $123.3 million to support Prekindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms, early learning and childcare, libraries and literacy.
As part of our $7.5 billion two-year capital plan to build a strong Saskatchewan and stimulate our economic recovery, the Minister of Education will receive $110.5 million for six new school projects to support our growing population.
The new projects include:
- A new Francophone elementary school in Regina;
- A new elementary school to replace Durcharme Elementary School in La Loche;
- A new k-12 school to replace Blaine Lake Composite School;
- A new K-12 school to consolidate the elementary school and high school in Lanigan;
- Renovations and addition to Holy Rosary High School in Lloydminster; and
- Renovations and addition to Lloydminster Comprehensive High School.
These projects are in addition to the funding announced as part of the Budget 2020-21 to build seven new schools and renovate three existing schools. Since 2008, 85 projects have been approved including 57 new schools, and 28 major renovation projects.
Our Education Minister also announced a $25.9 million stimulus funding for school maintenance projects in 15 communities. These projects are part of our government’s $7.5 billion two-year capital plan.
On June 29, Clare’s Law will come into force, enabling Saskatchewan residents to apply to police for information regarding their partner’s past behaviour. If applicable, police will be able to disclose of their partners information which may help protect potential victims of interpersonal violence. We believe an individual has the right to ask and the right to know if they are in danger.
Our government has consulted with municipal police services and the Provincial Association of Transition Houses to provide necessary training for police to process Clare’s Law applications in accordance with the legislation.
All municipal police services will be participating in this new protocol. The RCMP has indicated they will not participate. We will continue to reach out to our Prime Minister’s cabinet members and ask for this decision to be reconsidered.
Municipal Economic Program
55 projects with more than $7.4 million of provincial investment have been approved and are moving forward under the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program. This investment will be significant in our economics recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each project and its schedule will be managed by the municipality who received the funding. We look forward to seeing Saskatchewan people get back to work this summer with these projects. The City of Moose Jaw will receive $4,870,956 through the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program.
As our government moves into the remaining days of this session, we will continue our work in being transparent and accountable to our constituents. We will pass our 2020-21 Budget and continue to build a strong Saskatchewan. I wish everyone a Happy Canada Day, and remind you all to continue to socially-distance and respect the direction of our health professionals.
Moose Jaw Express June 24, 2020
Congratulations; Saskatchewan’s 2020 Graduation Class. It is unfortunate that classes were disrupted by COVID-19, however this year’s grads have achieved a momentous milestone. This conclusion to your years of hard work may be unfortunate; however, it is no less significant in recognizing your accomplishments and I applaud you for your efforts to finish your school year through continued distant learning with school assistance. You are also to be commended for finding innovative ways to celebrate your graduation appropriately and safely.
This year’s ceremonies and celebrations are certainly not what you may have envisioned for your graduation but your ingenuity and creativity will ensure that the experience is well organized and will be remembered throughout your lifetime.
I wish you success in achieving the goals you set as you take that next step in life’s journey. There are many opportunities for a promising future right here in our community and across our province. More than anything, I encourage you to choose a direction that you are passionate about.
Saskatchewan is a great place to live, to learn and to work. Many graduates may choose to enter the workforce immediately, while many may wish to continue into higher education. Saskatchewan has an impressive variety of high quality post-secondary education institutions including our two major universities, trade schools and colleges. Students planning to advance their education can take advantage of more than 20 programs at Saskatchewan Polytechnic here in Moose Jaw. Many of the credits gained can be transferred to university degree programs in Regina or Saskatoon if you so wish. Online courses and apprenticeships also expand learning possibilities. Briercrest College and Seminary has degree courses to offer as well.
Our government is ready to offer assistance in whatever your chosen path may be with programs to encourage you to remain in Saskatchewan to assist in growing our province and contributing to our economic strength. For post-secondary grads, as you move on to the next stage of your life, know that you hold an important place in the future of our province.
Saskatchewan has a variety of student support programs including loans, grants and scholarships. Eligible students may receive a tax credit of up to $20,000 on their income tax through the Graduate Retention Program – the most aggressive youth retention plan in Canada. The Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship (SAS) provides eligible grade 12 graduates $500 per year, to a lifetime maximum of $2,000. I encourage you to learn more about these and other programs at https://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/education-and-learning
Our province continues to undertake the most aggressive youth retention plan in Canada, while exploring new incentives to keep life affordable for young people and create more opportunities to realize their future right here at home.
Congratulations and best wishes for a prosperous future working toward the goals you have set. I encourage you to follow your dreams and aspirations.
Report from the Legislature June 18, 2020
On June 15th, Saskatchewan became the first province in Canada to table a budget that recognizes the impact of COVID-19. This is an historic time around the world, complete with new challenges due to the pandemic. Saskatchewan people, however, have faced this pandemic together. We are re-opening our province together, and we will rebuild and recover our economy together.
While 87 per cent of Saskatchewan businesses were able to stay open during the pandemic, our province is not immune to the financial hit that came along with COVID-19. This year’s budget has dedicated over a billion dollars in spending directly related to the pandemic. As a result, we are currently sitting in a deficit position, but it is important to acknowledge that this is not a structural deficit; this is a pandemic deficit. In fact, prior to the arrival of COVID-19, Saskatchewan was on track for balanced budgets both this year and last. As our province begins to re-open and our economy recovers, we will get back to a balance without having to cut programs and services.
Budget 2020-21 invests in health, education, social services, family, and communities. The Ministry of Health budget is $5.8 billion, which is an increase of 4.6 per cent from 2019-2020. This is the highest investment into health ever made that will ensure our health care system has the resources it needs to serve Saskatchewan people. Our budget also dedicates $435 million to mental health and addictions services, which makes up 7.5 per cent of the overall Health budget to fund critical initiatives including the development of an innovative crystal methamphetamine treatment program in Estevan. Funding will also be available for the development of a mental health program for Emergency Medical Service workers in the province.
Also included in this budget is $2.6 billion for the Ministry of Education, which is an increase of $123.3 million to support Prekindergarten to grade 12 classrooms, early learning and childcare, libraries and literacy. $8.5 million has been allocated to begin the planning and design for new joint-use schools, replacement schools and renovation projects. As our province continues to grow, we must continue to expand capacity to welcome and accommodate new students. The budget also includes funding for the new joint-use school in Moose Jaw that was announced in 2019.
Community-based organizations, including childcare centres, will receive an increase of $2.4 million from the 2019-20 Budget. This includes an increase of $350,000 in provincial funding for specialized Prekindergarten programming to support preschool-aged children with intensive needs.
Our government has made a $715 million commitment to safety and economic stimulus in the Ministry of Highway’s budget. Safety will always be our number one priority for our roads but we must also consider the economic opportunity that our communities will need. This stimulus funding will improve our highway system by adding in passing lanes, road improvements and investment into municipal transport infrastructure.
As our government moves into the remaining weeks of this sitting, we will continue to be transparent and available to our constituents. Recovering from this global pandemic will take time but we have proven before that we are a resilient province. I applaud everyone in their efforts as we continue to re-open our province.
This week we announced a date for phase 4.1 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan. This will include the re-opening child and youth day camps, outdoor pools and spray parks as well as outdoor sports. Our children have sacrificed a lot through this so we are very happy that our health officials believe kids can safely get back to these activities. I ask that we all continue to do our part. Please continue to physically distance, wash your hands, and self-isolate if you are feeling any symptoms of COVID-19.
Finally, I want to highlight one of the legislative changes that we will be working on. The Trudeau government has continued to change gun ownership rules by stealth over the past several weeks and would also like to give municipalities the option to ban handguns. Your Saskatchewan government believes we need clear rules, not a patchwork of regulations across the country, especially regulations that do not actually address crime and instead needlessly target legal gun owners. Therefore, we are amending The Miscellaneous Municipal Statutes Amendment Act to clarify that banning firearms does not fall under municipal jurisdiction. We have received support from many municipal leaders across the province on making this clarification and I thank them for their support. We will keep working to focus on criminals instead of further restricting legitimate firearm owners.
Moose Jaw Express June 17, 2020
Great Plains Power Station on Track
Construction of the new natural gas power station in Moose Jaw is on track. The plant is to be named the Great Plains Power Station. I probably wasn’t the only one in Moose Jaw wondering if the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed progress, however I have been reassured by SaskPower that the project is on schedule.
Initially, when the natural gas power plant was first being proposed by the province in November 2016, Moose Jaw was not even being considered as a site for possible locations. I commend Mayor Tolmie, our City Council, city administration, the Economic Development Team and the Planning Department for their efforts that resulted in Moose Jaw being the chosen site in November of 2018.
A significant step was taken last February when the project entered the request for proposal phase. Burns & McDonnell Canada Ltd. and Kiewit Construction Services ULC, two companies with project experience in Saskatchewan, have been shortlisted to proceed in the competitive process. SaskPower is committed to maximizing local opportunities throughout this project. Their last power station project led to $140 million of work for Saskatchewan businesses and workers and they would like to see even more local involvement for this project.
Approval has been granted to move on to the permitting phase for this project. This is because the Ministry of Environment completed their review of the project and has determined no formal environmental assessment is needed. SaskPower has signed a land purchase agreement and finalized a services agreement with the City of Moose Jaw.
Upon contacting the office of Dustin Duncan, Minister responsible for SaskPower, requesting an update on the project, I received the following information:
- The planned Moose Jaw power station is still on track and has not experienced delays.
- We adjusted proposal development meetings, outreach activities etc. to take place virtually instead of face-to-face.
- We continue to work with our two proponents in preparation of their proposal submissions. We look forward to receiving the proposals.
- We still plan to break ground in early 2021. The exact timeline will be determined with the selected contractor.
- Road work is planned for this fall to support the project.
The project is expected to result in significant economic spinoff for our region. SaskPower is committed to providing opportunity to local and Indigenous suppliers, subcontractors and labour. At its peak during construction, there is expected to be more than 500 workers on site. Once operational, Great Plains Power Station will create approximately 25 permanent jobs.
In a conversation I had with Mayor Tolmie, he pointed out that the Power Station is not only important to the City of Moose Jaw but to the province as well. The Province without this power plant would lose power independence and become reliant on outside producers such as Manitoba Power.
It will be a few years before Great Plains Power Station is complete due to the magnitude of the project, but we will see its benefits to Moose Jaw and Saskatchewan for years to come.
Report from the Legislature June 11, 2020
Members of the Legislative Assembly are returning to the legislature after a three-month hiatus due to COVID-19. The 14-day sitting will allow our government to introduce and pass a provincial budget that invests in building a strong Saskatchewan while ensuring the document receives the legislative scrutiny that it deserves.
Prekindergarten to Grade 12 students will be returning to the classroom in the upcoming school year, which is set to begin as early as September 1. This comes after an indefinite suspension of in-class learning was announced in response to COVID-19.
While the classroom may look a little different, our priority is the health and safety of students, staff and caregivers. The Chief Medical Health Officer will continue providing advice and recommendations as the planning and implementation process takes place.
I would like to congratulate all high school and post-secondary graduates in the Class of 2020. While this is certainly not how you imagined your year would end, I applaud your efforts to find innovative and safe ways to celebrate your achievements.
Our province recently entered Phase 3 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan which has seen restaurants, gyms and other personal care services take measures to resume serving clients within the guidelines set forth by our health authorities.
Included as part of Phase 3 is the re-opening of beaches and playgrounds. As the weather continues to improve, I am pleased that children and families will be able to enjoy our province’s many amenities in a cautious and responsible way.
While public gathering sizes have increased to 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors, it is important to remember to practice physical distancing of two meters between each person as any gathering increases the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Saskatchewan’s success in flattening the COVID-19 curve is the result of a collective and concerted effort that has been difficult at times, especially when it means distancing ourselves from seniors and those in long term care centres. Recently, we announced expanded visitation guidelines for Saskatchewan Health Authority facilities to allow residents to safely visit and support their loved ones in care.
Our government recently announced the expansion of the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program to include a larger number of workers who are helping our most vulnerable residents, including all of the workers in our long-term care facilities. These workers have provided tremendous physical and emotional support to our seniors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and it is important we recognize their great work.
Small businesses are a critical part of our economy and, as we settle into Phase 3 of our Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, it is important to ensure these businesses can continue to operate without the fear of being evicted. That is why we announced commercial eviction protection for tenants who have been impacted by the pandemic.
While every provincial economy has taken a hit – and Saskatchewan is no exception –87% of workers in our province have been able to keep working through the pandemic and, as more businesses start to re-open, even more will be able to return to work.
Together, we have proven that we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we can re-open safely. The latest Statistics Canada figures show Saskatchewan added 600 new jobs in May over April and has the second-lowest unemployment rate in Canada at 12.5%.
As we continue to re-open our economy, I encourage everyone to be careful and cautious. I also encourage you to find local businesses in your community to support so that we all can get through these challenging times together.
You can learn more about our Re-Open Saskatchewan plan online at Saskatchewan.ca/re-open.
Moose Jaw Express June 10, 2020
Mining: Essential to Local and Global Communities
Moose Jaw residents usually think of potash when they hear the word mining; and for good reason. The Mosaic Potash mine has been an important part of our community since the 1960’s. In 2012, K+S Potash broke ground in the Moose Jaw area, and quickly become involved supporting our community and helping to build our local economy. Saskatchewan Mining Week underlined just how diverse our mining industry is, and how much it contributes to our Saskatchewan economy.
The Government of Saskatchewan, with the Saskatchewan Mining Association, celebrates Mining Week every year. This year’s theme was “Mining: Essential to Local and Global Communities”, highlighting Saskatchewan’s world-class mining sector and its extensive contributions to local communities and the provincial economy.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and temporary market conditions, Saskatchewan’s mining sector is well-positioned to emerge as a leader in the provincial economic recovery, promoting food security and supplying critical resources; including clean energy to the world. Saskatchewan’s mining industry generated $7.4 billion in sales in 2019 and more than $72.3 billion since 2010.
In 2019, Saskatchewan produced more potash than any other country and about 30 per cent of the world total. Saskatchewan is also the world’s second-largest uranium producer, accounting for approximately 13 per cent of global production. Saskatchewan has a variety of other minerals including: gold, base metals, clays, coal, diamonds, platinum group metals, sodium sulphate, silica sand and rare earth elements.
Saskatchewan remains a favourable jurisdiction for investment in mineral exploration and development, and energy resources. The province has a stable regulatory environment, competitive royalty structures, and various incentives, including a Provincial Sales Tax exemption for exploratory and downhole drilling activity. Saskatchewan also offers the Targeted Mineral Exploration Incentive, which supports exploration for precious and base metals and diamonds.
Incentives like these are bringing lithium exploration and development to Saskatchewan. The global demand for lithium is forecasted to grow by ten per cent, per year, between 2019 and 2024 due to the expanding use of rechargeable lithium ion batteries in electric cars and portable electronic devices.
Prairie-LiEP Critical Mineral Joint Venture will begin a two-stage pilot project that will produce lithium hydroxide from Saskatchewan oilfield brines. The first stage is expected to begin this July, based in Regina. Stage two is planned for the second half of 2021, with field operations in southern Saskatchewan. It will include the construction of one of Canada’s first lithium extraction and refining facilities, which will produce approximately one tonne of lithium hydroxide per day.
More than 30,000 people in Saskatchewan are employed directly or indirectly by the mining industry. On top of that, in 2017, Saskatchewan mining contributed $1.8 billion in provincial, federal and municipal taxes, which created revenue for health care, education and infrastructure development. I know the mining companies including K&S and Mosaic contribute to our local community in sponsorships, donations, and gifts in kind. I’m grateful for all those ways the mining industry helps our community and our province be a great place to live.