News

Report from the Legislature

July 15, 2015

Wildfires Highlight Saskatchewan's Strength

Saskatchewan's greatest strength is Saskatchewan people – people who work hard and help

others in need. At a time of unprecedented wildfire activity in northern Saskatchewan, it is these

people who have answered the call and made a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

When the threat of wildfires forced thousands from their homes, municipal leaders, volunteers,

firefighters and members of the military started working day and night to provide for people, care

for their pets and work to protect homes, businesses, vital infrastructure and communities.

This is a difficult time for evacuees and that's why we're doing what we can to provide them with

as much comfort and peace of mind as possible. One of the ways we're doing that is by giving

evacuees and affected businesses some relief on their utility and insurance bills.

Thank you to the Red Cross, our municipal leaders, and the many volunteers, businesses and

organizations who are helping out across Saskatchewan. And thank you to evacuees for their

patience through it all. The scale of the effort to make people feel as comfortable as possible is

truly remarkable and, from many peoples strength, we will carry on.

Additional Free Fishing Weekend Later This Summer

Due to the wildfire conditions in northern areas of Saskatchewan, an additional free fishing

opportunity will be considered later this summer. A date will be confirmed when the wildfire

conditions no longer pose a significant threat and individuals have returned to their homes.

Until further notice, anglers and others are asked to avoid all wildfire-affected lakes and

communities in northern Saskatchewan and to respect fire bans in northern provincial forests

and parks. For more about the wildfire situation, please visit saskatchewan.ca/fire.

Boosting Benefits for Saskatchewan Seniors

Starting July 1, 2015, seniors across the province who qualify for the Seniors Income Plan

(SIP), Personal Care Home Benefit (PCHB), or both, will notice a boost to the monthly benefits

they receive. With this latest increase, our government is fulfilling its four-year commitment to

increase supports and improve the quality of life Saskatchewan seniors in need.

Qualifying seniors will see the maximum monthly benefit under the Seniors Income Plan

boosted by $10 per month – to $270 for single seniors and $235 for each member of a senior

couple. Seniors who qualify for the maximum benefit will now receive $2,160 more this year

than they did in 2007. They may also qualify for additional health benefits, including:

 one free eye examination every 12 months;

 chiropractic services (to a maximum of 12 services per year);

 a reduced Prescription Drug Plan semi-annual deductible;

 a home care subsidy; and

 the free loan of lower-cost devices available through the Saskatchewan Aids to

Independent Living Program.

800 seniors will also benefit from this year's increase to the Personal Care Home Benefit, which

assists seniors who have limited income with the costs of living in a personal care home. This

latest boost means the monthly income threshold will move to $2,000, which represents a $50

increase per month. The province has allocated $173,000 toward this increase. The PCHB

currently makes up the difference between seniors' income and the monthly income threshold.

Saskatchewan People Set Another, All-Time High Employment Record

According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan's job market is strong.

The June unemployment rate was 4.7 per cent (seasonally adjusted), down from 4.9 per cent in

May (seasonally adjusted), and once again the lowest among all provinces.

June marked an all-time high for employment as well as the 21st consecutive month that

Saskatchewan had the lowest unemployment rate in Canada. Nationally, unemployment was

6.8 per cent in June. Maintaining the lowest unemployment rate is thanks to the hard work of

Saskatchewan people and our strong, diversified economy that continues to create jobs.

One of the initiatives that helps maintain the lowest rate is our government's investment in

training for in-demand jobs. This helps employers fill their labour needs and helps

Saskatchewan people get good jobs that they can turn into rewarding careers.

Construction Continues, Consider the Costs of Speeding

A major paving project has officially wrapped up on Highway 9 in the Melville area, providing

drivers with a smoother, wider driving surface. In addition, the final set of passing lanes on

Highway 7 between Delisle and Rosetown are now officially complete. A total of four sets of

passing lanes were built, addressing increasing traffic volumes in the area. There are also

many new projects this week including some culvert installations and one bridge replacement.

A record $842 million highways budget coupled with a short construction season means an

abundance of work is taking place on our roads and highways this summer. For that reason,

SGI, the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure and provincial law enforcement are partnering

to make work zones the focus of July's traffic safety spotlight. Base fines for speeding in

highway work zones are triple that of a regular speeding ticket when workers are present.

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