COLUMN: Victoria Jurgens — Feb. 25, 2014

Victoria Jurgens
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With great pride and enthusiasm we recently watched our province’s young athletes converge on Prince Albert, showcasing their skills as part of the Saskatchewan Winter Games.  

This was a wonderful experience not only for the athletes but for their coaches, parents, fans and local volunteers.  This was made possible in part thanks to the countless community organizations across our province that make it a priority to foster excellence in our youth.  Our community was witness to the benefits -- to both our youth and our communities -- of investing in these programs.

Sport, culture and recreation are some of the most powerful tools this province has in enhancing the quality of life of our children and families. That is why our government recently announced a renewed lottery agreement which guarantees that sport, culture and recreation organizations will continue to receive and benefit from Saskatchewan Lotteries proceeds over the next five years.

Saskatchewan lottery proceeds benefit more than 12,000 volunteer-run groups that deliver services to communities across our province.  More than 500,000 registered members, both individuals and organizations, are represented by Sask Sport, SaskCulture and the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association.  For the year ending March 31, 2013, Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund distributed more than $53 million

Renewing the lottery agreement was an essential action to benefit the families and future leaders of our growing province.  The lottery proceeds benefit our children through healthy activities that teach them lifelong social and leadership skills.  It is part of our governments’ overall efforts to make this the very best place in Canada to live, work and, especially, grow healthy families.

That goal is front of mind as we near the 2014 spring sitting of the legislature, and plan the next provincial budget.  As elected stewards of this great province, our government is setting goals to maintain Saskatchewan’s trajectory of success.

A key part of our plan is investing in infrastructure.  We are on track to meet our commitment to invest $2.5 billion over four years.  Just this year, our government invested $850 million into schools, highways, housing, healthcare facilities and more.  At the same time, we recognize there are a growing number of necessary projects that require funding.  Innovative financing is needed and, realistically, we must engage the private sector if we are to keep up with demand.

The strength of the construction sector is building our infrastructure and creating jobs.  In fact, Saskatchewan set a new benchmark with $3.15 billion in building permits last year.  Between 2005 and 2013, permit growth on a cumulative basis was up 247 per cent – more than double Manitoba’s rate, more than triple Alberta’s increase and more than seven times the national basis.

Since 2008, our government and Crown Corporations have invested $13.2 billion in infrastructure -- double the amount that was spent in the previous six years.

While the details of the 2014 budget are still being finalized, your Saskatchewan Party government’s past budgets were designed to ensure all residents share in the benefits of growth. 

By the end of 2014, a family of four with $75,000 combined income will see tax savings of $2,542, when comparing 2014 to 2007.  Overall, Saskatchewan residents have saved more than $300 million through lower personal income taxes.

Over the past six years, other measures to reduce personal income taxes in Saskatchewan have included:

• Introducing a new First-Time Homebuyers' Tax Credit in 2012;

• Increasing personal, spousal and child exemption amounts on two occasions;

• Introducing a new Active Families Benefit of $150 per child for cultural and sports activities in 2009, then expanding the Benefit to include all children 17 and under (previously, it only covered ages 6 to 14);

With projections of steady growth in 2014, there remains much optimism within the province.  Of course, growth and prosperity goes beyond metrics.  It is about people and about helping our most vulnerable now and into the future.  That is what fiscal responsibility and economic growth allows us to do. 

While there is still much work ahead of us, we have a plan for growth that is producing results and we intend to carry on with the work necessary to achieve the targets laid out, for the benefit of all Saskatchewan people.

 

Victoria Jurgens is the MLA for Prince Albert Northcote. Constituents are always welcome to contact her office by calling 306-922-4220.  You may also visit her website at http://mlajurgens.ca or email mlajurgens@sasktel.net.  Her office is located at 5A 598 15th St. E. across from Superstore.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association, Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund Crown Corporations Saskatchewan Party First-Time Homebuyers

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canada, Manitoba Alberta

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