(7 December 2017)
Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy
Our government recently released a climate strategy that reduces emissions in key sectors, introduces flexible options for emitters, and protects our province from a changing climate. Prairie Resilience: A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy, accomplishes this without a carbon tax.
Our climate change strategy is about protecting our people and communities as much as it is about working with industry and others to lower emissions here in Saskatchewan. And we do plan to significantly reduce emissions in key sectors, but we will do so in a way that is economically sustainable and promotes economic growth.
The strategy proposes actions in key areas, including: natural systems; physical infrastructure; economic sustainability; community preparedness; and measuring, monitoring and reporting. Regulations will be developed through consultation beginning in 2018 and will recognize actions already taken by industry to reduce emissions.
Saskatchewan has a good story to tell when it comes to climate change. This includes agriculture, where our producers sequestered over 11 million tonnes of carbon in 2014. An offset system will create additional value for actions that result in carbon sequestration or reduced emissions, especially from agricultural soils, wetlands and forests.
The response to our plan from Federal Environment Minister McKenna appears to signal that Ottawa will not be imposing a carbon tax on Saskatchewan in January 2018. This is a welcome development as Saskatchewan people would not be paying more for home heating, gas, and other necessities.
The other advantage of our climate strategy is that our businesses and industry wouldn’t have to pay a federal carbon tax, which would make them less competitive here at home and abroad.
Unfortunately, after asking for a made-in-Saskatchewan climate change plan, the Saskatchewan NDP stood in the Legislature and voted against our made-in-Saskatchewan climate change plan.
It’s interesting to note that the NDP’s front-running leadership candidate is calling for “a made-in-Saskatchewan approach to carbon pricing”. That’s a carbon tax – just like the one the NDP imposed on Alberta and the one the Trudeau government tried to impose on Saskatchewan.
We have a better plan for Saskatchewan and you can read more about it online at saskatchewan.ca/business/environmental-protection-and-sustainability/climate-change-policy.
Improvements to Rural Cellular and Internet Coverage
Our government has also unveiled a plan to provide rural communities with enhanced access to communications services. We are currently in the process of launching a four-phase initiative.
The first phase begins with a SaskTel lead investment of $4.2 million to expand its High-Speed Fusion Internet service to 34 additional towers. This work is already underway and the first six towers will be online by the end of January 2018.
The second phase will see SaskTel deploy small cellular sites that will improve the level of service available in 100 rural communities. The public can expect this government to begin announcing the locations early in the new year.
As part of Phase 3, this government will continue to explore ways that SaskTel can enhance its cooperation with the private sector to look for additional opportunities to improve rural wireless services.
And the fourth phase will involve research gathered to identify coverage gaps, in both mobility and internet service. That data will be used by SaskTel to formulate a broad expansion plan to improve those services.
Our government understands the importance that high-speed internet and cellular connections have both in business and our personal lives, and this initiative shows that our government is committed to making sure that as technology advances rural communities won’t be left behind.
Decade of Growth Under Premier Wall
The conclusion of the Fall Sitting of the Legislature marked the end of an era in Saskatchewan as it was final sitting for Premier Brad Wall.
Premier Wall was elected on a vision for Saskatchewan that would secure a better quality of life for its residents. Saskatchewan has seen that vision unfold during a decade of growth in which we emerged as the second-fastest growing province in Canada with a population of 1.15 million.
During that time, our growing province produced the second-best job creation record in Canada – nearly double the national rate of job growth.
The growth of our province under the leadership of Premier Brad Wall has enabled us to provide record tax relief for low-income individuals and families.
Through strategic investments we have been able to recruit and retain 750 more doctors, over 3,000 more nurses, and we have been able to reduce surgical wait times to among the shortest in Canada.
Investments in hospital projects have doubled. This includes the new Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon and the new hospitals in Moose Jaw and North Battleford.
We have opened 15 new long-term care facilities for seniors across the province and have tripled the Seniors Income Plan benefit from $90 to 270 per month.
Today there are 40 brand-new or replacement schools with investments in 25 other major school renovations.
We have hired 875 more teachers and 164 more student support teachers.
With enrolment growth of 10 per cent, we have also increased K-12 operating funding by 32 per cent.
Operating and capital funding for post-secondary institutions has increased by 40 per cent over 10 years.
We have added 6,000 new childcare spaces.
And we have more than doubled revenue sharing funding to municipalities from $127 million in 2007 to $258 million in 2017-18.
Growth has always been, and always will be, the north star for our government.
It’s all about securing a better quality of life for all Saskatchewan people. Together, by this measure, we have had some success.
Thank you, Premier.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Don.
Past Legislative Reports