As the Fall sitting of the Second Session of the Twenty-Ninth Legislature has come to a close, Premier Scott Moe reflected on the successes and ongoing efforts of the Government of Saskatchewan.
“The pandemic has divided our communities and now is the time for Saskatchewan people to come together in unity,” Moe said. “It’s more important than ever to take the time to listen to one another, and I believe that the people of this province are making great strides as we overcome the challenges this pandemic has created.”
Saskatchewan continues to see a drop in cases following the increase in vaccinations and the mandatory masking and proof of vaccination or negative test requirements implemented this fall. Over 925,000 Saskatchewan residents have now received their first dose of vaccine, including over 37,000, or one-third, of all youth aged five to 11. That is the highest number of vaccine doses administered to five to 11 year olds in the nation. In total thus far, more than 840,000, or 71.3 per cent, of Saskatchewan residents are now fully vaccinated, protecting themselves, as well as their loved ones and communities.
The Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) have announced aggressive actions to eliminate the COVID-related surgical backlog and achieve a three-month wait time by 2030. A target has been set to perform an additional 7,000 surgeries in 2022-23, over pre-pandemic levels. Volume targets will grow by an additional 6,000 in 2023-24 and 5,000 in 2024-25. In addition, permanent ICU beds will be expanded from 79 to 90 by June 2022 as the first step to better prepare for surges in ICU demand and ensure access to services. The SHA and the Ministry of Health are developing a long-term plan to achieve this target and ensure we have the right mix of critical care services across the province.
Saskatchewan’s economy also continues to show signs of a strong recovery. Employment has now recovered to over 98 per cent of its pre-pandemic level, giving Saskatchewan the third lowest unemployment rate in the nation. In addition, off-reserve Indigenous employment was up 11.8 per cent for 12 consecutive months of year-over-year increases – all of which were in full-time jobs. Exports have also increased by 42 per cent in October 2021, compared to October 2020, as global demand for Saskatchewan’s resources and manufactured goods rises. This growth continues to show the strength of the Saskatchewan economy, as more jobs are created and filled and the unemployment rate continues to decline.
Throughout the Fall sitting, the Government of Saskatchewan introduced a number of initiatives aimed at building a safer province and protecting the vulnerable.
the creation of safe zones around hospitals and schools to protect people from harassment;
enhancing efforts to reduce crime through the creation of new Trafficking Response, Warrant Enforcement Suppression and Crime Reduction teams to target gang-related criminal activity, outstanding warrants and areas seeing surges in crime;
taking steps to protect vulnerable people by strengthening the ability to enforce child and spousal support payments;
expanding harassment protection provisions in the Saskatchewan Employment Act; and
introducing new measures to stop the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
Additionally, the Government of Saskatchewan worked in partnership with the federal government to create more than 600 new child care spaces across the province, while reducing fees for families and increasing wages and training opportunities for child care workers.
In a significant moment in Saskatchewan history, Members of the Legislative Assembly adopted a motion to amend the Saskatchewan Act and the Constitution of Canada. Section 24 of that Act is a relic of an earlier time when Saskatchewan was not treated as an equal partner in Confederation. As a matter of tax policy and business competitiveness, repealing Section 24 will level the playing field for all businesses while supporting Saskatchewan’s autonomy and cementing its place as an equal partner in Confederation. The Government of Saskatchewan looks forward to the future deliberations as it moves to the House of Commons.
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