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Report from the Legislature

April 9, 2014

Report from the Legislature

April 9, 2014

Saskatchewan is a big province with a growing population. While working to meet emerging challenges

in larger urban centres, we are committed to supporting the needs of rural and remote communities.

To that end our government is working to ensure everyone has access to quality primary health services.

Part of that is a recruitment strategy to bring more nurse practitioners to rural Saskatchewan. These are

people who can perform physical assessments and diagnostic tests, diagnose and treat common medical

conditions, prescribe medications and those capable of performing minor surgical procedures.

Our recruitment strategy, which is comprised of four initiatives to be phased in over two years,

encourages nurse practitioners to work in communities where there are fewer than 10,000 people. As

part of this registered nurses will receive wages and benefits for up to two years while they receive full-
time nurse practitioner training, based on a five-year return-of-service agreement.

In communities without nurse practitioner services, a locum pool of nurse practitioners will provide

services on a temporary basis with provisions providing relief for vacation, sick leave or maternity leave.

Health regions will also be able to transfer positions to nearby communities in need and incentive grants

of up to $40,000 will be available to nurse practitioners who practice in hard-to-recruit positions or

locations.

The Government of Canada has made significant efforts to expand trade agreements and reduce

barriers to market access. This puts us in an enviable position to provide the energy and food the world

needs. The opportunity, however, is being squandered by an inability to get our products to port.

One of the greatest challenges affecting farmers continues to be the backlog in grain transportation.

Producers have done their part but, as a new growing season approaches, they are still moving a

significant portion of last year's crop. It has been and continues to be a priority of our government to

clear the current backlog and do everything we can to ensure a transportation crisis doesn't happen

again.

The federal government's Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act is a step in the right direction but we feel

it doesn't go far enough. This is why we have sent a submission to the House of Commons Standing

Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. We are asking for service level agreements between shippers

and railways, including reciprocal penalties for damages and an expedited arbitration process; services

for all customers and shippers in all corridors and; a minimum railway delivery of 13,000 grain cars per

week. For failing to comply, we are asking that the railways be forced to pay a minimum daily penalty

of $250,000. We are also asking for the August 2016 sunset clause be removed until a review of the

Canada Transportation Act is complete with permanent legislation in place.

Saskatchewan has a great story to tell and we need to be telling Saskatchewan's story to the world.

The public, however, has a right to know the cost and purpose of the trip and that their tax dollars are

being spent efficiently. With that in mind, our government has implemented a new system for publicly

reporting all expenses for out-of-province travel for ministers and the government staff who accompany

them. This new reporting system features semi-annual expense reports and includes a list of meetings

the minister attended on behalf of the province.

Our government is focused on being accountable to the people of Saskatchewan. We are focused on

watching our bottom line and will continue to look for ways to do things better. Out-of-province travel

is an important part of a minister's job as it's how we increase exports, build our economy and how we

learn about best practices in other provinces and other countries. We will continue to do this while

keeping our expenses in full-view of the public.

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