Success is often measured in terms of dollars and cents, but I would argue that the health of you and your family is equally important.
That is why your Saskatchewan Party government has launched the second phase of a youth anti-tobacco campaign, targeted at young people between the ages of 11 and 14 years. The campaign has a strong anti-tobacco message coming from Saskatchewan youth. It is hoped that the voices of their peers will help persuade young people to stay tobacco free. Protecting youth and educating them about the harms associated with tobacco remains a priority for our government.
Another recently announced health initiative means Saskatchewan people will soon benefit from reduced costs for some medications. By collaborating with other provinces and territories, significant cost savings will be realized on important drugs that patients rely on.
The participating provinces and territories will leverage combined purchasing power, and have agreed to establish a price point for six of the most common generic drugs at 18 per cent of the equivalent brand name drug. The new prices will be in effect April 1, 2013. Specific details may be found at http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=dd83d4c9-002a-495e-9e97-91b6ca8b8a3b
Saskatchewan people continue to see surgery wait times reduced. In November 2007, there were 10,635 people waiting more than six months for surgery. Efforts across the province have reduced that number by 60 per cent to 4,271 people. Statistics for Nov. 30, 2012 show that there were 299 fewer people waiting more than six months for surgery than the month before. The goal for the current fiscal year is to provide all surgeries within six months by April 2013.
With the first weeks of 2013 behind us we are receiving positive indicators that Saskatchewan growth will continue. The Conference Board of Canada believes Saskatchewan will top the nation in economic growth in 2013 at 3.4 per cent. This is consistent with other major economic forecasters which place Saskatchewan as a strong growth leader in 2013.
Our province saw population growth of 23,024 in 2012, the largest- ever single year increase since 1921. In 2012, full-time employment increased by 16,300. Adding to that, in December a new monthly record was set with 539,000 people working in Saskatchewan.
Two new examples of growth opportunities in northern Saskatchewan include the Areva expansion in its McClean Lake processing mill and the Northern Career Quest initiative.
In partnership with the federal government, the Government of Saskatchewan will invest $1.5 million in the Northern Career Quest. This program will help 800 Aboriginal people to find jobs by training them for employment in the mining industry.
The McLean Lake expansion may potentially create 100 jobs at Arevas’ Cigar Lake mine. Areva vice president of communications Jarret Adams explained to a recent Chamber of Commerce gathering that the goal is to hire as many qualified local people as possible.
These projects show the confidence that industry has in northern Saskatchewan. They may help create job opportunities for northern residents and could provide economic benefits to our communities. Both are new growth opportunities for business and individuals in Prince Albert and area.
With tax time approaching, Saskatchewan families will continue to benefit from our government’s actions in regards to income tax. This year, a family of four will pay no provincial income tax on their first $47,790 of income. This is the highest tax free income threshold for a family of four in Canada.
Since 2008, our government has taken several measures to reduce personal income taxes which, when you combine them with new programs like the refundable Low Income Tax Reduction and Active Families Benefit, have resulted in significant savings for Saskatchewan families. By the end of this year, a family of four making $50,000 a year will have saved over $12,000 in taxes over the last six years.
It is another example of how your Saskatchewan Party government is ensuring everyone benefits from our province’s growth. Through our growth plan, we will ensure that the benefits of growth are used to improve the quality of life for you and your family.
Prince Albert Northcote constituents are always welcome to contact my office by calling 306-922-4220. You may also visit my website at http://mlajurgens.ca or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our office is located at 5A 598 15th St. E. across from Superstore.
Victoria Jurgens is the MLA for Prince Albert Northcote. Her column runs on the last Tuesday of the month.