Darryl Hickie’s MLA Report

As Canadians we are free to speak without fear, worship in our own way, oppose what we feel is wrong and choose who should govern us. These freedoms, which we often take for granted, were put in perspective recently as 47 people from 22 countries gathered at the Legislative Building in Regina. They took the oath of citizenship, officially becoming Canadian citizens. These 47 people, now Canadians, can now claim all of these freedoms for themselves.

Saskatchewan is a big province with a growing population. While working to meet emerging challenges in larger urban centres, we are committed to supporting the needs of rural and remote communities. To that end our government is working to ensure everyone has access to quality primary health services. Part of that is a recruitment strategy to bring more nurse practitioners to rural Saskatchewan.

On March 19, our government was proud to present its seventh consecutive balanced budget. By controlling spending, keeping taxes low and making targeted investments in people and infrastructure we are ensuring Saskatchewan remains on the path of steady growth.

Schools, hospitals and long term care facilities, highways, bridges and bypasses are among the many priorities outlined in a provincial budget that includes many of the initiatives the NDP opposition had petitioned for. Despite this, their members still voted against it.

In conversation with constituents of Prince Albert Carlton, health care is almost always the number one priority. These concerns are not only being heard, but acted upon. I am proud to say that our government is providing $2 million in this year’s budget to begin planning the renewal of Victoria Hospital. The planning funding will be used to fund both the Lean 3P work, as well as additional work around project scope to review our current population projections and service delivery information and to ensure that the facility is the proper size now and into the future.

The #1 priority of our government is the backlog of grain transportation.

In fact, it was the subject of an emergency debate when the spring sitting of the legislature resumed this week. With unanimous support, our government passed a motion supporting emergency legislation from Ottawa to mandate service agreements between railways and grain companies.

Over the last few months we have been raising concerns about a transportation backlog that is hurting prices for producers, causing storage issues and cash flow problems. The delay in moving our record crop is also hurting Saskatchewan’s reputation as a reliable supplier.

Over the last few months we have been raising concerns about a transportation backlog that is hurting prices for producers, causing storage issues and cash flow problems. The delay in moving our record crop is also hurting Saskatchewan’s reputation as a reliable supplier.

The success and growth of our agriculture industry depends on getting products to port and shipped throughout the world. Unfortunately, problematic weather and the sheer volume of this year’s crop is so great that rail transportation can’t keep up. This shouldn’t happen. Our government is committed to finding solutions and fully supports the federal government in its efforts to alleviate this situation – including enhancements to the Grain Monitoring Program.

Government rules, permits and paperwork can take too long, cost too much and, in some cases, these processes aren’t always necessary. This “red tape” is more than just a costly headache for business owners, it can also be a burden when completing home renovations, applying for student loans and even going fishing. According to a public opinion poll for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), nearly half of respondents said that excessive regulation adds significant stress to their lives.

Our government is busy working on the next provincial budget.

As we look forward to what 2014 could hold for our economy, it’s predicted that resource revenue will be down slightly. While this isn’t great news, we will continue to work with business to promote Saskatchewan as a great place to do business. With the next budget in mind, our government will continue to invest in key areas while maintaining our commitment to spend tax dollars responsibly while growing our province.

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