The Throne Speech kicked off a new session of the Legislative Assembly, Premier Brad Wall said the government will focus on meeting the challenges of growth.
The twinning of Highways 6 and 39 to accommodate the increase in traffic in this area is one of those challenges.
"My government is developing modeling that will more accurately predict increases in traffic volume caused by industrial activity. This will be helpful in areas like southeast Saskatchewan, where increased activity in the oil and gas industry has boosted the amount of highway traffic. In particular, Highways 6 and 39 running between Regina and Estevan have seen truck traffic increase significantly over the last decade. In the coming year, the Ministry of Highways will begin to plan the twinning of this section of highway," said the Honourable Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield in the speech.
"Saskatchewan continues to grow - more people, more jobs, more economic activity," said Wall. "Growth creates many new opportunities and it also creates many new challenges. Our government is working hard to meet those challenges and ensure all Saskatchewan people share in the benefits of a growing economy."
Some of the new initiatives outlined in the Throne Speech include:
• A new program to enable some seniors with complex issues to receive house calls from physicians, nurse practitioners and other health care providers;
• Amendments to The Personal Care Homes Act to allow for the public disclosure of inspection reports;
• New Collaborative Emergency Centres in Shaunavon, Spiritwood, Wakaw and Canora;
• New "hot spotting" pilot programs to take pressure off emergency rooms in Saskatoon and Regina by providing more appropriate services to assist high-risk, high-use patients who repeatedly show up in emergency rooms;
• A new Student First approach in education that will include wide-ranging consultations with students, teachers, parents and administrators;
• New anti-bullying measures;
• Nine new joint-use schools to be built using an innovative P3 bundling approach;
• Improvement to internet access and speed in all schools through SaskTel's CommunityNet program;
• Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) to become a polytechnic institution;
• Further highway twinning in high traffic areas;
• New measures to improve traffic safety and reduce fatalities, with a particular focus on tougher penalties for drinking and driving;
• Significant infrastructure investments by Crown Corporations including four new cellular sites in the north in Fond du Lac, Stony Rapids, Black Lake and Wollaston Lake;
• Expansion of the HeadStart on a Home program to encourage construction of rental properties;
• A new Life Lease Program though Saskatchewan Housing Corporation to improve housing options for seniors;
• 1,000 new training seats, including 300 new apprenticeship seats and 700 new Adult Basic Education seats;
• A new Manufacturing Centre of Excellence;
• A new event hosting strategy through Tourism Saskatchewan;
• A new Saskatchewan International Future Scholarship for up to 20 students annually;
• A new Western Canadian Livestock Price Insurance Program for cattle and hog producers;
• Amendments to The Saskatchewan Employment Act to include the province's essential services law, which was recently upheld by the Court of Appeal;
• A comprehensive public consultation on the province's disability strategy; and
• A new Lobbyists Act.
"These are just some of the actions our government will be taking to address the challenges of growth, with more to come in the next provincial budget in March," said Wall. "Growth creates many challenges, but they are sure preferable to the challenges of decline that Saskatchewan was facing just a few years ago."
Also during this session, former University of Saskatchewan President Peter MacKinnon will release his report on the Saskatchewan Heritage Initiative - his recommendations on how best to ensure that resource revenues become a permanent source of wealth for current and future generations.
"While many jurisdictions are saddling future generations with huge debt burdens, Saskatchewan's natural resources have given us an opportunity to pay down debt," Wall said. "Now we have an opportunity to look ahead and make sure that our children and grandchildren benefit from our natural resources and the decisions we make today."