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Saskatchewan throne speech outlines plans for province’s future

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The 2023 Speech from the Throne has been delivered by Lt. Gov. Russ Mirasty, focusing on economic growth and furthering the Saskatchewan First Act.

The throne speech outlines the government’s plan for the upcoming legislative session.

“A strong and growing province means more homes, more businesses, more families, more opportunities, more careers and more futures have been built, right here in Saskatchewan,” Premier Scott Moe said.

“It means more hospitals, more schools and more highways have been built right here in Saskatchewan. And it means there is so much more to be built in the years ahead.”

New Homeowners

Outlined in the speech is the return of the provincial sales tax (PST) rebate for new home construction.

The rebate returns 42 per cent of PST paid, around 2.5 per cent of the total house price for a new home. The rebate will be reinstated and extended retroactively to April 1st.

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“As you look across Canada there are challenges. Inflation challenges, construction costs have increased… those are real challenges families are facing. We are faced with those in Saskatchewan as well so we want to do what we can to help those that are aspiring to home ownership.”

In addition to the rebate, the province plans to introduce a Secondary Suite program to help with building rental suites within their homes.

“The addition of the rental units that could come up with this incentive, will also help in the affordability in homes,” Moe said. “This program is designed to offset some (of those costs).”

Saskatchewan First Act

The Saskatchewan First Act, introduced at the throne speech last year, aims to assert provincial jurisdiction over natural resources in the province.

This year, the province plans to build on the act by going against the federal government’s Clean Fuel Standard regulations.

“During this session, my government will take the next step to defend our economy and autonomy by using The Saskatchewan First Act to refer the federal Clean Electricity Regulations, the Clean Fuel Standard regulations and the oil and gas emissions cap to the Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal,” the speech read.

“The Tribunal will define, assess and report on the economic harm caused by these destructive federal policies,” the speech outlined.

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Homeless and addictions crisis

“Communities across Canada are facing challenges with mental health and addictions,” the speech read. “Saskatchewan is no exception.”

As part of the province’s plan to address addictions and mental health struggles in the province, 500 new addictions and treatment spaces across the province will be added.

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“My government’s approach to harm reduction will increase access to addictions treatment and support while reducing access to illegal drugs,” the speech reads.

To address homelessness, 155 new supportive housing units are to be implemented, with 120 new permanent emergency shelter spaces. There will also be 30 new complex needs emergency shelter spaces in Regina and Saskatoon.

Ahead of the fall legislature, the opposition Sask. NDP outlined their priorities for the province. Leader Carla Beck said the two issues most important to the people she spoke to were health care and cost of living.

“This summer, I don’t know how much the Sask. Party spent on billboards trying to tell you that your life was better instead of actually making it better,” Beck said in a recent interview.

“One of those billboards was right outside the food bank in Regina, a food bank like other food banks in the province that has seen a 40-year high in the number of people using that food bank.”

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The Sask. NDP are set to offer their take on the throne speech later this afternoon.

Other sections of the speech include items such as a new Saskatchewan Employment Incentive program will be introduced, to further the income of low-income working families, or the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Amendment Act, which will raise the legal age for smoking and vaping from 18 to 19, consistent with the legal drinking age.

And while Sask. residents got a rebate cheque last year, the province didn’t outline the same thing this time around. However, Moe said there may be the ability to introduce something similar at a later date as the economy fluctuates.

More to come…