With Saskatchewan’s population recently surpassing 1.1 million, the province is seeing significant growth that brings about unique challenges and opportunities.
© Herald file photo
Premier Brad Wall is seen during a barbecue in Prince Albert this summer. Prince Albert Northcote MLA Victoria Jurgens is pictured to his left.
This, Premier Brad Wall’s latest throne speech reads, is why the government’s focus this coming session will be on meeting the challenges of growth.
There are a couple notable Prince Albert mentions within the throne speech, including a new home care pilot program that the government plans on launching, the details of which the Daily Herald will seek during an interview with local MLAs later this afternoon.
Community Mobilization Prince Albert is citied as an “impressive” success story, with overall crime in Prince Albert falling 18 per cent since 2011, with violent crime down 38 per cent and property crime down 20 per cent.
The Community Mobilization Prince Albert model, wherein various agencies work together to tackle individual and community problems and concerns, is spreading.
Yorkton, La Ronge, North Battleford, Moose Jaw and the Estevan and Weyburn region have taken on the model.
“In the months ahead, several other Saskatchewan communities will look at developing their own Hub programs to reduce crime,” a transcript of the throne speech reads.
The following are some more finds within the throne speech transcript, which was scheduled for a 2 p.m. delivery by Premier Brad Wall on Wednesday, kicking off the third session of the 27th legislature.
“Through the first nine months of 2013, employment is up by nearly 20,000, putting Saskatchewan on pace for the best year of employment growth ever recorded,” the transcript reads.
The transcript notes that continued growth will bring challenges, including but not limited to the following:
Health care – The government has set a Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative that will see that no one waits more than three months for surgery -- a goal the government said is being met.
Province-wide, a $10-million Urgent Issues Action Fund has been created to purchase more equipment, improve nutrition and improve responsiveness.
Education – Nine new joint-use schools will be built using the P3 bundling approach through SaskBuilds.
Post-secondary education – The province has promised to support SIAST “as it evolves into a polytechnic institution which combines the practical approach of a college education with the depth of study usually associated with a university program.”
Highways – More than $500 million will be spent on highways this year, bringing the total investment over the past six years to $3.7 billion -- 76 per cent more than in the previous six years.
The twinning of Highway 11 between Saskatoon and Prince Albert “will be completed this fall.”
Infrastructure – P3s are being looked at, which “will allow the government to advance certain capital projects more quickly while reducing costs.”
SaskPower will spend more than $1.3 billion to renew and upgrade the province’s electrical infrastructure, this year.
SaskEnergy will spend more than $180 million this year to expand and ensure the integrity of its distribution system.
SaskTel will invest more than $300 million this year in a range of projects.
The Northern Fibre Expansion Project will see 566 kilometres of new fibre placed through the north to bring high-speed bandwidth -- a joint effort between SaskTel, SaskPower and Cameco.
Housing -- $344 million has been committed to expand the housing supply by 12,600 units and to repair or update about 24,000 units by 2016.
Other areas of attention include competitiveness, international engagement, resource sector expansions, innovation, agriculture, fiscal responsibility, safe communities, social services, accountable governance, parks and culture and environment.
“We are mindful the growth we seek is not an end in itself, but a means to build a better province for all Saskatchewan people,” the transcript reads.
“We move forward more confident than ever that our resilient, determined, optimistic citizens can meet any challenge as they work to fulfill the enormous potential of this great province.”
Click HERE for Prince Albert MLAs response to the throne speech, as well as what they note to be highlights.
More on the throne speech, including a full transcript, can be found online by clicking HERE.
For an article on the Saskatchewan NDP's predictions for the throne speech, click HERE.