Government of Saskatchewan
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    Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Minister of Finance

HONOURABLE KEN KRAWETZ
MINISTER OF FINANCE
March 23, 2011

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INTRODUCTION

Mr. Speaker, colleagues, guests and visitors, it is an honour to stand before you today and deliver the 2011-12 budget, my first as Finance Minister.

 

Before I begin, I would like to introduce my very special guests, my brother Dave and his wife Marlene from Big River, SK, son Bryce,... his wife Olivia, my granddaughters Willow and Scarlett...  and my wife of 39 years Gail. 

 

Gail and I have two children and now two grandchildren.

 

They serve as a reminder to me every day why I am here and why I do this job.

 

I'm sure members on both sides of the House would say the same thing.

 

We all want to make life better for all Saskatchewan families.

 

I would ask all members to join me in welcoming my family and all the special guests who have joined us here today.

 

Welcome to your Legislative Assembly,... and welcome to your budget.

 

Mr. Speaker, this budget will be quite unlike most others you will see across Canada this year.

 

While other provinces are recording deficits, Saskatchewan will post a surplus.

 

While others struggle to maintain programs, we will improve our public services.

 

While other jurisdictions will see their debt loads increase, we will reduce our debt.

 

And this budget will continue to strengthen our economy and make life more affordable by reducing taxes.

 

Saskatchewan is blessed with so many advantages - our abundant natural resources, our pristine environment, our sense of community our unique prairie lifestyle,...

 

And our greatest advantage of all - our people.

 

Saskatchewan people.

 

Proud and hopeful , resilient, patient and kind.

 

Those whose families have lived in this great province for generations,...

 

And those who have just moved to Saskatchewan.

 

Together, they make Saskatchewan better.

 

Together, they have created

 

The Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

 

I wonder how the first Premier of Saskatchewan, Walter Scott would feel if he were sitting here today, seeing how far Saskatchewan has come since he sat in this Assembly a hundred years ago.

 

Premier Scott once said: "This province has at yet less than a half a million souls and there is plenty of room for at least 10 million."

 

Well, we're not quite there yet, but everywhere you look in Saskatchewan today, there are signs of growth.

 

Our towns and cities are growing quickly.

 

New businesses are starting up and people are moving back home from across Canada.

 

We're seeing a new confident attitude across the province.

 

It's exciting to be a part of it.

 

We have always known this is a great place to live,...

 

But we haven't always been able to talk about Saskatchewan being a leader in Canada.

 

Today we can.

 

This year, we are projected to lead the nation in economic growth.

 

More people now live in Saskatchewan than ever before.

 

Our population has been growing faster than any other province in Canada.

 

Saskatoon and Regina are the fastest and third fastest growing cities in the country.

 

There is every reason to believe that this trend will continue.

 

Housing starts are up.

 

Wages are up.

 

We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

 

This is the story people are now hearing about Saskatchewan.

People like Bob Stoyand, who moved here from Alberta to open a new business in Canora.

 

Bob and his wife Tracy have family connections in the area and love Saskatchewan's lakes.

 

With our economy doing so well and the price of housing so high in Alberta, Saskatchewan looked like a good opportunity to Bob.

 

He got a job in Yorkton and when he became better established, Bob started a business on his acreage repairing boats.

 

Earlier this year, he built his own shop in Canora and business is thriving.

Bob works on boats in the summer and quads and snowmobiles in the winter.

 

Right now, the shop is full and the future looks bright for Bob and Tracy and their two children.

 

That's just one story, but it's a story that is being repeated in every corner of our province.

 

More people are choosing to stay in Saskatchewan and more people are moving to Saskatchewan to start their careers, raise their families, and pursue their dreams.

 

And every time someone makes that choice, they make Saskatchewan better.

 

This combination of our growing economy and our tremendous quality of life create the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

That's what this budget is about.

 

It's about building on our strengths and maintaining the momentum we have achieved.

 

To do this, our government will do three things.

 

We will lower taxes.

 

We will improve government services.

 

And we will reduce the debt.

 

Our government is committed to making life more affordable for Saskatchewan people.

 

The best way we can do that is by leaving Saskatchewan people with more of their hard-earned tax dollars in their possession.

 

From day one, this government has been committed to lower taxes.

 

Our very first act in government was a tax cut - eliminating the PST on used cars.

 

In the fall of 2008, we delivered the largest income tax cut in Saskatchewan history,...

 

Raising the basic and spousal exemption,...

 

Raising the exemption for dependent children,...

 

And removing 92,000 Saskatchewan residents from the provincial income tax roll.

 

In the 2009 budget, we delivered the largest education property tax cut in Saskatchewan history,...

 

Lowering property taxes for Saskatchewan homeowners, businesses and farmers.

We are proud of our record, but there is more to be done.

 

Today, we are increasing the basic and spousal personal tax exemptions by another $1000, effective January 1, 2011.

 

And today, we are increasing the exemption for dependent children by $500, also effective January 1, 2011.

 

When you combine these increases with the Low-Income Tax Credit introduced by our government in 2008, a family of four in Saskatchewan will not pay tax on their first $45,550 of combined income.

 

 That's the highest income threshold in Canada.

 

In other words, that family can now earn more tax free income in Saskatchewan than anyplace else in Canada.

 

This tax reduction, together with the previous reductions introduced by our government, means that a family of four with $50,000 income will save $2,447 in income taxes this year.

 

It also means another 22,000 people coming off the income tax roll.

 

In four years, we have eliminated provincial income tax for approximately 114,000 Saskatchewan residents.

 

This is real progress on reducing taxes.

 

The income tax reduction measures undertaken since 2007 will save Saskatchewan taxpayers $420 million this year. 

 

Lower taxes to make life more affordable.

 

And more tax free income for families than any place else in Canada.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 A strong and vibrant business environment is an important part of the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

And right now, our business community is saying they see a bright future ahead for the province.

 

A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that 79 per cent of small businesses in Saskatchewan have confidence in the provincial economy and the government's economic policies.

 

This is the highest rating for any western province.

 

89 per cent of small business owners would recommend starting a business in Saskatchewan.

And 84 per cent of small business owners see a bright future for young people in this province.

 

This is a complete reversal from the situation in 2003,... when 83 per cent of small business people did NOT see a bright future for young people in Saskatchewan.

 

All of this has been achieved by listening to and responding to the people who create the jobs in our province.

 

We are proud of our record,... but there is more to be done.

We have heard the message that reducing taxes on small businesses is the best form of incentive,...

 

And that small business owners will reinvest tax savings back into their businesses and their employees.

 

We agree.

 

Today, we are announcing that the small business income tax rate will be reduced by more than half, from 4.5 per cent to 2 per cent, effective July 1, 2011.

 

This tax reduction will give Saskatchewan small businesses the third lowest tax rate in the country and lowest in the New West.

 

We believe this makes Saskatchewan the best place in Canada to start a new business or expand your existing business.

 

Lower taxes for Saskatchewan businesses.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

Of course, the process of examining our tax structure and looking for improvements does not stand still.

 

We have received a number of submissions from Saskatchewan business leaders,...

 

We value these recommendations and advice they have provided on tax competitiveness in Saskatchewan.

 

Our government has a record of delivering affordable, sustainable tax reduction within a balanced budget,...

 

And this will continue should the people of Saskatchewan provide us with the opportunity to deliver future budgets.

 

Now let me turn to one of my favorite topics - education property tax.

 

Funding education through a property tax has been one of this province's most difficult issues for a very long time.

 

For too long, too much of the share of funding education fell on Saskatchewan property owners.

 

That is why we pledged to reduce the burden of education property tax for all ratepayers when we took office.

 

We made a great deal of progress on that promise with our 2009-10 budget.

 

That year, the province increased its share of the cost of education from 52 to 61 per cent.

 

As a result, the province increased its payments to school divisions by $241 million,...

 

And delivered the largest education property tax cut in Saskatchewan history.

 

At the time, we said that was Phase One of education property tax reform,... with a further reduction to follow.

 

Today, we are keeping that promise.

 

Let me give you an example of how this will benefit Saskatchewan farm families.

 

Terry Zavislak and his son Chad farm 7 quarters of land north of Canora.

 

In 2003, their taxable assessment on this land was 183,700 and their school division mill rate was 20. 

 

Today, the mill rate on agricultural land will fall from 7.08 to 3.91 mills.

 

Therefore in 2011, if the Zavislaks own the same 7 quarters of land with the same taxable assessment they will pay an education property tax of $718.00.  That's a savings of $2,956.00. 

Overall, Saskatchewan farmers will see an average 80 per cent reduction in their property tax.

 

The residential tax will decrease from 10.08 to 9.51 mills in Phase Two - that's a total reduction of about 21 per cent compared to 2008. 

 

The middle tier of the Business tax will decrease from 15.75 mills to 14.75 mills, resulting in a $5.6 million tax reduction on commercial assessments.

Overall, this is a massive reduction in the education portion of property tax - the largest in Saskatchewan history.

 

As a result of this year's changes, the province will provide an additional $55.6 million for the education budget each and every year.

 

This will bring the province's share of the cost of education to about 65 per cent - a far cry from just a few short years ago when it was approximately 40 per cent.

 

A fairer balance for education funding,... and lower property taxes.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

 

Mr. Speaker, I believe that sound financial management is in the DNA of Saskatchewan people,... and it's what they expect of their government.

 

Debt reduction has always been a priority for our government.

 

The very first piece of legislation this government ever introduced  - Bill One - was the Growth and Financial Security Act.

 

This required that half of any government surplus would go to reducing the debt.

On top of that, when we had additional resources in 2008, we paid down $2.6 billion in government debt.

 

We are proud of our record, but there is more to be done.

 

Mr. Speaker, earlier I said tax reductions and government spending decisions must be affordable and sustainable.

 

All over the world today, we are seeing the consequences of governments living beyond their means,...

 

Governments struggling to control their huge deficits and growing debt.

 

Today, I am pleased to say that the Saskatchewan budget is balanced,...

 

In fact, we have a surplus,...

 

And the provincial debt is going down.

 

Today, we are paying down the debt by another $325 million.

 

This will bring government debt down to $3.81 billion, its lowest level since 1988,...

 

And a reduction of over $3 billion since our government took office.

 

Mr. Speaker, debt reduction is not just a lofty accounting principle.

 

It means lower interest costs,...

 

And more money to pay for important government services in Saskatchewan.

 

This budget will also leave a balance of $710 million in the Growth and Financial Security Fund.

 

This will protect our province against any sudden shocks in world commodity markets,...

And ensure that our government is able to respond quickly and effectively to any unforeseen circumstances,...

 

Like the flooding that hit our province last year.

 

The people of Saskatchewan can be confident that we have the resources to meet our commitments.

 

Balanced budgets,... debt reduction,... and sound fiscal management.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

Of course, all of this is possible because of a strong and growing economy.

 

Oil prices are high and we are projecting another great year for exploration.

 

It's important that we maintain the momentum that we have achieved.

 

The Ministry of Energy and Resources will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of services in the oil patch by spending $13.8 million to modernize our information systems.

 

It costs companies tens of thousands of dollars a day when rigs are idle.

That's why we will spend $1.4 million to reduce approval and licensing time.

 

We also expect to see great things in the potash industry this year.

 

In spite of the recent challenges, potash remains a source of good fortune and future growth for Saskatchewan.

 

Even in the down year of 2009, our potash producers continued to show confidence in their industry and our province by moving forward with their multi-billion dollar expansion plans.

 

In fact, with the expected increase in private and public investment in 2011, total capital investment in Saskatchewan has nearly doubled since 2005 and is the highest growth among provinces. 

 

Our existing potash companies are expanding and we welcome new entrants into the Saskatchewan potash industry.

 

Together, potash producers will spend almost $12 billion on their current capital expansions.

 

They will create thousands of new jobs.

 

These expansions are due to a growing worldwide demand for potash,...

And a stable tax and royalty structure that encourages new expansion and job creation.

 

And it's working.

 

You can see it in community after community throughout our province.

 

The new houses and businesses in Esterhazy.

 

The expansion of businesses and recreational facilities in Rocanville.

 

The growth in the engineering firms and manufacturing plants in Saskatoon.

 

In Humboldt, Colonsay,  Allan, Lanigan and Jansen,...

 

These communities are growing and thriving because of a vibrant and expanding potash industry,...

 

Because of the partnership that has been built between these communities,... the potash industry,... and the provincial government.

 

Our government will oppose any attempt to jeopardize that growth.

 

A competitive royalty regime, a thriving resource sector, and a growing economy.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

International trade is a key part of the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

Saskatchewan has what the world needs.

 

We export about $24 billion worth of goods around the world each year.

 

About 70 per cent of our economy is based on exports.

 

We are proud of this record, but there is more to be done.

In the past year, the Premier led trade missions to the two largest markets in the world - China and India.

 

Both are increasing their trade with Saskatchewan as their populations become more affluent.

 

Our government will continue to support the excellent work of the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) with $2.9 million in base funding this year and will support funding requests for future trade missions.

 

 

 

The recent trade mission to India and Bangladesh,... and the New West Partnership's ongoing engagement with the world,...are an example of how we are expanding trade in every corner of the world.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

Our government has always said we do not seek growth simply for the sake of growth.

 

We seek growth because of the quality of life it provides for all Saskatchewan people.

 

The strength of a diversified economy helps to fund important government services,...

And helps cushion the blow when other sectors experience difficulty.

 

As we know, agriculture had a challenging time last year.

 

Our government acted to address this challenge by working with the Federal Government to make $360 million available through the excess moisture program to help producers affected by flooding.

 

Most producers are optimistic for a better year in 2011.

 

While this is encouraging, we will be there for farmers when they need help.

 

This budget allocates $320.8 million to fully fund the province's 40 percent share of farm income stabilization costs through the AgriStability, AgriInveset, and Crop Insurance programs. 

 

An increase of 13 percent or $37 million from 2010-11, resulting in record crop insurance funding!

 

Producers will be able to receive greater coverage on their unseeded acreage if it is too wet to seed.

 

Coverage has been increased from $50 dollars to $70 dollars an acre - a significant improvement.

 

Our government has taken important steps to support the farm sector and rural Saskatchewan

 

In addition to those previously mentioned, we have provided half a million dollars to prevent and control flood damage caused by beavers.

 

We have also provided $23 million to help communities manage, prepare and prevent damage from spring flooding,...

And we have made historic improvements to municipal revenue sharing, benefiting both urban and rural residents.

A strong farm sector and a vibrant rural economy.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

A growing economy helps us to fund important government services - improving the quality of life for all Saskatchewan people.

 

Since taking office our government has made important commitments to health care,...

 

Setting and achieving the goal of hiring 800 new nurses,...

 

Setting a bold new goal of reducing surgical wait times to three months by 2014,...

 

Funding a new provincial Children's Hospital in Saskatoon.

 

We are proud of our record,... but there is more to be done.

 

This budget increases funding to Regional Health Authorities by $250 million.

 

This will allow us to revitalize the kidney transplant program - recruiting more specialists and resuming donor transplants in Saskatchewan.

 

It will also allow us to expand the colorectal screening program to the Regina Qu'Appelle Health region this year.

 

The pilot program in the Five Hills Health Region has resulted in earlier detection of cancer, and we look forward to continued success of this program.

 

This budget will provide increased funding of $12.6 million to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.

 

 

 

This means that the agency can offer more chemotherapy treatments, more mammograms and a doubling of the number of bone marrow transplants done in Saskatchewan compared to last year and will reduce the number of patients sent out of province.

 

Our government will provide funding to support MRI scans for an additional 5,000 patients and CT scans for an additional 13,000 patients.

 

We will continue to move forward toward our goal of reducing surgical wait times through the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative.

 

We will continue with education, recruitment and retention efforts for health providers,...

 

Including an additional $1.5 million for the Clinical and Medical Teaching units at the U of S and Regina General Hospital.

 

We will provide $10.9 million to address increased volume in diagnostic imaging services, cardiac care and chronic kidney disease.

 

We will provide $2.5 million to maintain a provincial HIV strategy,...

 

 

This budget also includes $5 million to introduce the STARS program to Saskatchewan - a helicopter-based emergency trauma response system to supplement our existing air and ground ambulance systems.

 

A health care system that puts patients first.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

Our government will spend $1.43 billion on pre K-12 education this year - a 9.1 per cent increase from last year.

 

This will allow us to make investments and improvements across the system.

Last month, we approved a significant investment of $60 million for 120 school renovation projects in 65 Saskatchewan communities.

 

In fact, since coming to office, our government has invested over 400 million in 600 new school or school renovation projects throughout the province.

 

We are proud of our record, but there is more to be done.

 

This budget earmarks $6.1 million for planning of nine major school projects across the province.

 

In order to ensure that children have the best start in life, we are spending $2.6 million to develop an additional 40 pre-kindergarten programs.

 

This will provide new spaces for up to 640 youngsters in our high needs areas.

 

This budget will also devote $2.1 million to develop 500 new child care spaces, bringing the total to 12,700 spaces.

 

This is an increase of more than 30 per cent since we took office.

Investing in children and education.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

It's just as important to continue that advantage once our children finish high school.

 

We will ensure tuition remains affordable by providing $24.6 million to help our post-secondary institutions limit tuition increases to an average of three per cent.

 

This budget fulfills our promise to provide $3 million to establish a Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship Program.

 

This budget includes $6 million in funding to continue expansion of nursing and physicians' training programs.

We know that it's important to ensure First Nations people receive the skills training and post-secondary education they need to succeed.

 

This budget provides a total of $48.6 million for direct support for aboriginal education institutions including Adult Basic Education and the Provincial Training Allowance, a $7 million increase to improve the education and employment outcomes for aboriginal people.

 

Across government, you will find that this budget provides $167 million for First Nations and Métis people.

 

This amounts to an increase of more than $13 million.

 

This includes money for aboriginal retention co-ordinators, to help ensure aboriginal students stay in school.

 

It also includes funding for addictions programs through the Health ministry.

 

This budget provides funding for the Family Finders program through Social Services,...

 

Through the Ministry of First Nations and Métis Relations we are supporting the Northern Action Plan which is intended to address the serious problems of suicide and drug use among northern Saskatchewan youth.

 

Of course, there is much more to do, but we believe we are making progress.

 

We are changing how we think about challenges facing vulnerable children.

 

Government's response to these challenges involves different ministries, and often in the past, they have not been well coordinated.

 

It's time to try a different approach.

 

Working together, we can do better.

 

 

In response to the recent Child Welfare Review report, we are launching a Children and Youth agenda to bring a more co-ordinated approach to the problems in child welfare.

 

By targeting resources, we can prevent problems at an earlier stage and improve the well-being of children in care.

 

We will improve our front line capacity in the child welfare system and provide better support for foster parents.

 

We will devote $34 million to focus on this effort.

 

From social services, $15.3 million will be provided for better support for children in care.

 

It will strengthen the relationships with First Nations through additional funding to First Nations child and family service agencies.

 

It will increase the number of child protection workers in the system and it will provide better family supports.

 

Through the Ministry of Justice, it will improve personal safety for women in abusive environments and provide better court services for family issues.

 

Through the Health Ministry, we will step up prevention efforts for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

 

We will increase funding to provide better rehabilitation therapies for those with Autism.

 

This response to funding programs such as FASD and Autism is an important step in dealing with these very difficult issues.

 

 

 

 

 

We are taking action to provide more affordable housing.  In addition to Head Start on a Home, we will partner with Municipalities on two programs.  The first is a program to provide property tax abatements on designated new home construction.

 

We have allocated $200,000 this year with $1 million available for this program over the next five years.

 

The second is an incentive to support the development of new rental housing. It will provide a grant of up to $5000 per unit with a goal of having 350 new units built each year.

Additional revenue at the end of 2010-11 also allowed the investment of $33.9 million for renovation and construction of new housing.

 

In March, we provided $1.5 million to Habitat for Humanity to help build 30 new homes.

 

We are working closely with the University of Saskatchewan on a major expansion of student housing on campus, to reduce the stress on the local housing supply.

 

 

 

 

And, through the Ministry of Social Services,... our government will continue to move forward on our four-year, $76.9 million commitment to provide group homes and eliminate the waitlist for adults with intellectual disabilities.

 

Providing opportunities for Affordable and low income housing.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

To ensure Saskatchewan is ready for growth, in our first three years in government, we have invested an unprecedented $3.5 billion in building and repairing provincial infrastructure.

 

We are proud of our record, but there is more to be done.

 

This budget devotes more than $400 million to the provincial highways budget, for repaving and capital projects, maintenance and repair of roads and bridges.

 

Over our term of government, we will have spent $2.2 billion on highways, well exceeding our promise to spend $1.8 billion over four years.

 

These critical investments in infrastructure are essential to maintaining economic growth.

 

In total, this year we will deliver a capital spending budget of nearly $600 million.

 

This brings the total infrastructure spend over four years to more than $4.0 billion.

 

Infrastructure that meets the needs of a growing province.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

Our government is also committed to safer communities.

 

That's why we promised 120 additional police officers,...

And this budget will complete that commitment.

 

With the addition of 30 new police officers to complete our commitment of 120 over four years,...

 

Our budget for police services will go up by 8.5 per cent.

 

This budget also keeps our promise to our municipal partners - Saskatchewan cities, towns, villages, RMs, and northern communities.

 

 

 

As the Premier announced at the recent SUMA Convention,...

 

This budget will see us complete our commitment to provide municipalities with funding based on the value of one full point of the Provincial Sales Tax.

 

This amounts to $216.8 million - an increase of $49.4 million over last year, or nearly 30 per cent.

 

Revenue sharing with municipalities has gone up by $90 million - 70 per cent - since we took office,...

 

By far the largest increase in Saskatchewan history.

 

More importantly, the new funding formula provides stability and predictability to our municipal partners,...

 

Growing, vibrant communities.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

We believe that government must always be looking for ways to become more efficient.

 

Every dollar we spend is a dollar that a Saskatchewan taxpayer worked hard to earn,...

That's why we have embarked on a process of Public Service Renewal, including LEAN that will improve the level of service we provide and boost the efficiency of our public service.

 

That means eliminating unnecessary steps in our processes, making it easier for Government employees to get their jobs done.

 

The government remains committed to its target of reducing the size of the civil service by 15 per cent over four years, and we are confident we will reach that goal.

 

 

Our government is committed to furthering the innovation agenda.

 

This budget delivers almost $100 million in direct support to innovation and research development across government agencies and ministries.

 

For example, this budget will provide $2.6 million to the Canadian Light Source - an increase of $1.6 million over last year. . . . .

 

Part of the four year, $11.8 million commitment we made in 2010-11.

 

This budget will devote $18.2 million to support agricultural research and development.

An increase of $1.25 million over 2010-11, as a result of the province's four-year $5 million commitment to the agriculture biotechnology sector.

 

We are increasing our support for the Saskatchewan Research Council by $1.5 million for research and development projects in a wide variety of areas, including agriculture biotechnology, energy, forestry, manufacturing and mining.

 

On the energy side, we are devoting $2.3 million to the Petroleum Technology Research Centre.

 

We are also maintaining our commitment to the development of alternative fuels.

 

This budget provides funding for the Ethanol Grant Program and it adds $2.6 million in new funding for a Renewable Biodiesel grant program.

 

This will provide biodiesel producers with 13 cents for every litre they produce and will result in production of as much as 40 million litres of renewable biodiesel every year.

 

Not only will this provide a new market for our canola oil, it will mean we have a cleaner burning fuel that will help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We believe innovation will be the next engine of the economy.

 

That's why our government established Innovation Saskatchewan with a mandate to drive innovation in areas of strategic importance to our province.

 

This year our government is providing Innovation Saskatchewan with  $3.5 million for research into areas with promising commercial potential in clean energy, nuclear science and medicine and agriculture biotechnology. 

 

 

Over the next 7 years our government will invest $40 million to establish Saskatchewan as an international leader in nuclear medicine, science, engineering and safety.

 

The result may well be life saving technologies and cutting edge class health care facilities.

 

That's innovation driven by a knowledge-based economy.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

Mr. Speaker, this is a budget Saskatchewan people can be proud of.

 

It is a budget that builds on the Saskatchewan Advantage and benefits all Saskatchewan people.

 

Mr. Speaker, you have heard some people say that this is the "New Saskatchewan,"...

 

That "Next Year Country" has become "This Year Country."

 

Some may wonder - what does that mean exactly,... "This Year Country"?

 

Here's what it means,...

 

 

 

This year,...

 

A family from halfway around the world will hear of a place called Saskatchewan for the first time.

 

Before you know it,... they will be living and working and building a new life in this new place.

 

They will discover a land whose winters are colder - and whose people are warmer - than they could have ever imagined.

 

They will learn that football is not played with a round ball.

 

They will become part of the community.

 

Their kids will make new friends at a new school.

 

They will become hockey players and figure skaters and Rider fans,...

 

And Canadians.

 

And they will make Saskatchewan better.

 

This year,...

 

A young woman with an intellectual disability will finally get a place to call her own.

 

She has a job and she wants to be independent.

 

But she has waited a long, long time for the dignity of her own place.

 

This year,... her wait will be over.

 

She will get that place,... and that independence,...

 

And she will make Saskatchewan better.

 

This year,...

 

A man in his late 50s will go to get screened for colorectal cancer.

 

Because of early detection, he will get the treatment he needs,... from caring and highly qualified doctors and nurses.

 

That early detection and that treatment will make the difference,.,.

 

The difference between spending one more Christmas with his family,...

 

Or spending 20 more.

 

He will get better.

 

And he will make Saskatchewan better.

 

And this year,...

 

A couple whose children have all grown up will be sitting at home one evening.

 

The phone will ring and the husband will answer.

 

It will be his daughter who lives in Calgary,...

 

And she'll say - "Dad, we're coming home."

 

He'll say - "That's nice.  How long can you stay this time?"

 

And she'll say - "You don't understand Dad.  I got a new job and we're moving back to Saskatchewan."

 

Her Dad will try not to act too excited, because that's not his way.

 

But he might choke up a little when he tells his wife that THIS YEAR,...

 

Instead of seeing their grandkids just a couple of weekends,...

 

They'll get to see them EVERY weekend.

 

 

And that will make Saskatchewan better.

 

That's what "This Year Country" means.

 

It means our time is now.

 

That's the Saskatchewan Advantage.

 

 



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