(2 February 2012)
Spring Session and Budget
The Premier has announced that the spring session of the Legislative Assembly will begin on Monday March 5th. The initial focus of the session will be the first budget of our second term. The 2012-13 provincial budget will be delivered on March 21st. This budget will keep our economy strong and growing, be balanced and deliver on our modest campaign promises.
Our campaign promises were designed to ensure that everyone continues to benefit from Saskatchewan’s historic growth. One important promise we made was to take further steps to make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable. The Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship program will provide up to $2,000 over four years to new high school graduates to reduce the cost of post-secondary tuition in Saskatchewan. We already have the best graduate retention program in the country, but it is important we continue taking action to ensure our young people choose Saskatchewan as the place to live, build a career and raise a family.
This year’s budget also contains measures that will make life more affordable, such as an expansion to the PST exemption for kids’ clothing. This tax change took effect November 15, 2011, and applies to children aged 15 to 17. This means more Saskatchewan families will save 5 per cent on all children’s clothing.
We have also expanded The Active Families Benefit to all children less than 18 years of age. This is an annual refundable tax benefit which helps with the cost of children participating in cultural, recreational, and sport activities. Parents can claim up to $150 per child.
Housing affordability is a challenge that our government has been working to solve. To that end we have the new and expanded First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit that came into effect January 1, 2012. This credit will make it easier for people to get into the housing market by providing a provincial non-refundable income tax credit up to $1,100, to eligible taxpayers. All of these programs help make Saskatchewan the best place in Canada to live.
We can take these important measures for a couple of reasons: continued historic growth of Saskatchewan’s economy and our government’s commitment to manage that growth responsibly. We see examples of that growth over and over again. For example, over the past year Saskatchewan’s average earnings were the second highest in Canada. In December 2011, we had 523,500 people working in Saskatchewan, a record for that month. Further, we had the second fewest number of people receiving EI in Canada, at 1.2 per cent. Our economy is feeling the effect of having more people working in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan used to be the place to be from, now it is the place to be. Our population is at an all-time high of 1,063,535 people. Saskatchewan’s population has increased every quarter since April 2006, translating into 70,000 more people. This is a clear indication that the province is moving in the right direction. We are aware that with growth come some challenges and we will work to meet those challenges. As we get ready for a busy spring session, I’d like to keep something the Premier once told me in mind; that the only day better than today in Saskatchewan is tomorrow in Saskatchewan.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Randy.
Past Legislative Reports