Report from the Legislature

October 29, 2014

Report from the Legislature

October 29, 2014

Saskatchewan's population continues to grow and our economy stands out as a national

leader. This growth allows us to increase important investments in people, programs and

infrastructure. For example, as a result of the province's predictable and sustainable revenue

sharing program, municipalities already know they will receive record revenue sharing of $265

million in next year's budget – more than double what it was when our government took office.

This no-strings attached funding means our municipal partners are better able to meet the

unique challenges in the communities they serve.

To further assist municipalities with infrastructure development, our government recently

announced the renewal and expansion of the popular Saskatchewan Infrastructure Growth

Initiative (SIGI). Now including First Nations communities, SIGI will provide rate subsidies for up

to five years on municipal borrowing. This is another way in which we're partnering to help build

stronger, more vibrant communities.

Earlier this year, Saskatchewan was once again hit hard by flooding. When the water was at its

worst, our people were at their best. Friends, family and neighbours grabbed sandbags and

pitched in wherever they could. Our government was able to respond by establishing 11

recovery centres, including 3 in First Nations communities. These were one-stop points of

access staffed by representatives from ministries, Crown corporations, the Canadian Red

Cross, Samaritan's Purse Canada and other organizations to help individuals and families who

were affected.

The benefits of a strong economy mean we can assist those hurt by flooding and still project a

budget surplus. So far this year, the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) has

determined more than 340 municipalities and First Nations, and individuals living in those

communities affected by flooding, are eligible for assistance under the program. PDAP has now

received over 3,000 claims.

Despite this year's weather-related challenges, many Saskatchewan producers are in the final

stages of harvest operations. In the coming weeks, Saskatchewan will play host to a New West

Partnership transportation and market access summit. This will serve as an opportunity to

discuss long-term improvements to Western Canada's transportation system.

Saskatchewan's agriculture sector remains strong, contributing $4.5 billion to Saskatchewan's

gross domestic product and sustaining 50,000 direct and indirect jobs. In 2013, Saskatchewan

set a record for agriculture exports for a third consecutive year with sales of $11.7 billion, and

we are on track to meet our goal of increasing agriculture exports to $15 billion by 2020. That is

why, in November of this year, the Premier will be leading a trade delegation to India to continue

to cultivate and strengthen an important and growing trading relationship. This mission will

promote Saskatchewan's agriculture and energy story to the fast-growing Indian market.

Announced as part of our government's Throne Speech, SaskTel's rural strategy will see the

expansion of high speed internet into another 54 communities by the end of the year. SaskTel

is also doubling the available internet speed in 220 rural communities and improving cell phone

service in 111 rural communities by adding more capacity to its 4G network. This is in addition

to the 318 rural communities that have already received improved internet service and upgrades

to cellular service in more than 500 locations since 2007. This is just another example of how a

strong and growing province works to build a better quality of life for all Saskatchewan people.

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