The third session of Saskatchewan’s 29th Legislature drew to a close, with MLAs rising until a scheduled return on October 25.
The session saw 49 government bills make their way through the Legislature. Here are some of the highlights:
- The introduction and passage of the Saskatchewan First Act. The legislation amended the Constitution of Saskatchewan to confirm provincial autonomy and assert the province’s exclusive legislative jurisdiction under Section 92 (A) of the Constitution of Canada over the exploration for non-renewable natural resources; the management of non-renewable natural and forestry resources; and sites and facilities for electrical energy production. The Act also created an independent Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal.
- Passage of Finance Minister Donna Harpauer’s 2023-24 provincial budget. The budget projects a $1.017 billion surplus for 2023-24. The budget pays down approximately $1 billion in provincial debt, projecting further savings of $44 million annually in debt payments. Also included in the budget was a $3.7 billion capital commitment for highways, schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure, as well as funding for the creation of the Saskatchewan Marshals Service (SMS) to help with policing.
- Last Tuesday, Premier Moe held a news conference, joined by Ministers Don Morgan and Bronwyn Eyre, as well as SaskPower President and CEO Rupen Pandya. Premier Moe said the federal Liberal government’s net-zero by 2035 goal for electrical grids was “impossible and unrealistic.” In outlining the province’s future plan for power generation, the government included a net-zero by 2050 target. Notably, Saskatchewan’s opposition NDP also has concerns with the federal net-zero 2035 goal, with NDP energy critic Aleana Young calling the federal goals “unrealistic.”
- Saskatchewan implemented several steps to increase the number of health workers in the province. The Saskatchewan Party government increased the Rural Physician Incentive Program to $200,000 over five years, accelerated timeframes for the Education Nurses pathway program, and a new family physician compensation model was announced with an alternative to the existing fee-for-service model.
- A one-year extension to Saskatchewan’s Manufacturing and Processing Exporter Tax Incentive, extending it to December 31, 2023, as well as an increase to the Saskatchewan Mineral Exploration Tax Credit rate up to 30% from 10%.
- A red tape reduction initiative that allows Saskatchewan’s municipalities to designate outdoor public places where drinking alcohol is permitted.
The Saskatchewan Party has already begun the process of opening nominations for the next provincial election, with Premier Scott Moe becoming the party’s first nominated candidate earlier this month in his Rosthern-Shellbrook riding earlier this month.
When MLAs return to the Legislature in October, it will be just one year out from the next provincial election, scheduled for October 28, 2024. Premier Moe and the Saskatchewan Party will be seeking a fifth consecutive majority, while the Saskatchewan NDP will be running their first campaign under new leader Carla Beck.