The Throne Speech to start the legislative session was delivered in the Saskatchewan Legislature Wednesday afternoon by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty. The session comes just days after an emergency session called to pass amendments to the province’s Education Act wrapped up.
The session touted a number of the highlights of the past few years of the Saskatchewan Party government, including provincial growth in population through immigration, the increasing number of people working in the province according to the latest data from Statistics Canada and the amount of money invested into infrastructure since the Saskatchewan Party first formed government in 2007.
Premier Scott Moe said the speech outlined a plan of the government to build and protect Saskatchewan, with much of the language around the economic portions of the speech stating that the only true threat to the provincial government was the federal government’s policies. With that theme in mind, part of the Throne Speech included outlining plans to use the Saskatchewan First Act to refer the federal Clean Electricity Regulations, the Clean Fuel Standard and the oil and gas emissions cap to the Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal.
The tribunal was created during the passing of the Saskatchewan First Act with the role of defining, quantifying and reporting on the economic effects of federal initiatives on provincial investments and Saskatchewan projects.
The speech also highlighted plans to promote investment in Saskatchewan through a new investment attraction strategy, along with establishing a significant presence at the COP28 Conference in the United Arab Emirates to promote Saskatchewan's oil and gas sector. The conference is scheduled to take place from November 30th to December 12th.
Housing was addressed in the speech as well.
Part of the housing strategy outlined in the speech was putting the rebate on the PST charged in the construction of new homes back into place, retroactively to April of this year. The rebate would be for 42 percent of the cost of the PST on new homes. Additionally, a secondary suite program is set to be introduced. The goal of the program would be to make it easier for homeowners in Saskatchewan to have a secondary suite built into their existing home to increase the rental supply.
For affordability, the government stated they would be introducing a Saskatchewan Employment Incentive program. There were no details at the time of the throne speech as to what this would entail, or what the eligibility for the program would be.
Part of the speech was also dedicated to the cost of living, citing how SaskEnergy has reduced the utility rate on bills in recent months, while also attributing many of the economic issues that the average family in Saskatchewan faces as something caused by the federal government.
Some bills the government will be introducing, according to the Throne Speech, include an amendment to the Workers’ Compensation Act to expand presumptive cancer coverage for firefighters to include six additional types of cancer. Also, the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act will be amended to raise the legal age for smoking and vaping from 18 to 19, bringing the age in line for alcohol and cannabis consumption.
Changes to the Protection from Human Trafficking Act will include relief for negative credit factors for debt incurred by human trafficking victims through coercion. As well, the Saskatchewan Remembrance Day Observance Act will be introduced. The government said the goal of that legislation is to protect a person’s right to wear a poppy in all Saskatchewan workplaces.
The fall sitting of the session will go until December 6th, with the MLAs then off until March 4th, with the budget scheduled to be delivered on March 20th.
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