It is with great pleasure that I table the 2008-09 Budget and supporting documents for public review and discussion.
Many people have asked me - what is your government's first budget going to be about? The answer is clear. It's about keeping our promises, and making sure Saskatchewan is ready for growth.
This budget delivers on 40 of our government's campaign promises, and it delivers the largest investment in infrastructure in Saskatchewan history, to ensure our province is ready for growth.
This is a great time to live in Saskatchewan. Our population is growing, our economy is on a roll, and Saskatchewan people are optimistic about the future.
With our $1 billion Ready for Growth Initiative, we're making sure we have the infrastructure in place to grow in a responsible, measured way. We've seen what happens when growth exceeds the ability to manage it - and we don't want to make the same mistakes.
We're providing more funds for hospitals and health facilities, for schools, for roads and highways. We need the right facilities and the right equipment to educate and train more students and doctors and nurses. We need safe roads to carry the wheels of the economy and transport the important goods we need every day.
We're providing a tuition rebate to graduates who make their futures here in Saskatchewan, and are freezing university tuitions. We want our young people to embrace all that Saskatchewan has to offer - plentiful career opportunities, our vibrant cultural scene, and our outdoor oases of lakes and rivers.
All Saskatchewan people will see benefits in this budget. We're providing significant property tax relief for businesses, homeowners, and farmers. We're providing funds for new agricultural risk management programs, and increasing municipal revenue sharing grants.
We're building on Saskatchewan people's sense of pride in our province through increased funding to maintain and enhance our parks. We're doubling the tax credits for caregivers and increasing other tax credits to support people with disabilities. We're funding school lunch and hunger programs. We're keeping people safe by directing more money towards addictions treatments and sexual assault centres. We're making our communities safer by putting more police on the streets.
On top of our already announced initiatives to fund more arthritis drugs and the cancer drug Avastin, we are taking steps, in partnership with the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, to address our nursing shortage. This budget increases training seats for nurses and doctors and increases the Ministry of Health's budget by over $300 million to better serve those who need care.
At the same time as our economy has allowed us to fund these, and many more initiatives, we are mindful - always - of the bottom line, and how we move forward. Sound fiscal management is paramount. This is our government's first budget; it is a balanced budget that includes a $250 million debt reduction to better position Saskatchewan for future generations.
We are ready for growth.
I invite you to browse this and other related documents to discover for yourself how Saskatchewan people will benefit from growth measures provided in Budget 2008-09.
Honourable Rod Gantefoer