September 17 to 23 is National Forest Week, a week dedicated to highlighting the important role of the forestry sector in the provincial economy and environment. Saskatchewan forests are a key renewable resource, supporting nearly 8,000 jobs, of which 27 per cent are Indigenous. With more than half of our province forested, the forestry sector remains one of the driving forces behind economic growth and development in Saskatchewan.
While our economy continues to grow, so does employment. In the past year, we have seen 4,600 new jobs and our labour force has reached a record high of 632,800. With 2,800 new jobs created just last month, our province ranks third among all provinces for month-over-month growth. Major year-over-year gains were observed in various sectors, including transportation and warehousing, business support services, and professional scientific and technical services.
With fall fast approaching, and colder weather ahead, our government strives to ensure utility costs are affordable. Effective October 1, 2023, SaskEnergy rates will decrease, saving the average residential customer nearly 8% on their monthly natural gas bill.
Saskatchewan’s continuous economic growth allows us to invest in additional educational opportunities. Our government recently announced a new Saskatchewan Polytechnic Campus in Saskatoon, which will transform 11 decentralized, outdated buildings into a revitalized complex. Located at Innovation Place on the University of Saskatchewan campus, it will offer a modern, technology-rich learning environment for students and greater opportunities for applied research and investment.
Our growing economy also allows us to invest in infrastructure. Our government and the Government of Canada are investing $1.7 million to fund drinking water and wastewater upgrades in two Saskatchewan provincial parks. Upgrades to the sewage lagoon at Danielson Provincial Park will help to ensure it complies with regulatory requirements, while the existing water systems at Narrow Hills Provincial Park will be consolidated into a single treatment and distribution facility to improve efficiency. This announcement is part of a total of 134 infrastructure projects that have been announced in Saskatchewan under the Green Infrastructure Stream, a program to support greener communities.
Our government remains committed to investing in health care to provide accessible and timely care for all. Saskatchewan patients living with seizure disorders or epilepsy now have a new dedicated Seizure Investigation Unit (SIU) located at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital. A total of $2.2 million was spent to renovate and furnish the SIU. The new unit will provide enhanced monitoring and diagnostic services to improve patient care, reduce wait times, and create a comfortable environment for Saskatchewan patients.
Our government is investing in the expansion of mental health services as well. An investment of $1.7 million in new annual funding from our government will expand Family Services Saskatchewan’s free, rapid access counselling services to youth across the province. This brings the total annual investment to $3.2 million annually, funding services to families, adults and youth in communities across the province. For more information, visit www.counsellingconnectsask.ca.
For a second year, the Facilitating Independence of Older Adults in the Community will provide $250,000 in grants to organizations and groups supporting seniors. The program encourages the development of new ways to help seniors maintain independence in their own homes. Led by Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism in partnership with the Ministry of Health, it will support eligible projects, up to $25,000 each. For more information, visit www.skseniorsmechanism.ca.
September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as well as Orange Shirt Day. This day honours the children who never came home, the survivors of residential schools, and their families and communities. Let’s take time to reflect on this tragic history and the ongoing impacts of residential schools so that we may move forward together in reconciliation.
Our government continues to work on building a growing and stronger Saskatchewan. As I prepare for the fall sitting of the Legislature, I look forward to hearing from you with any questions or concerns. These conversations are important in shaping government policies and help me continue to represent your best interests in the Legislature. Please feel free to reach out to me at 306-692-8884 or email@example.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.