Latest articles from Joe Hargrave

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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Saskatchewan remains one of the best places to live and build careers. Along with the ongoing work on the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital (PAVH) project, our government continues to make strategic investments in our post-secondary sector. These investments provide more programs and opportunities that help build a bright future right here at home.

The PAVH project is progressing well. Upon completion, the hospital will have a heliport, expanded emergency department, larger operating rooms, pediatrics, maternity, NICU, new medical imaging, and a First Nations and Métis Cultural space. With overall capacity increasing from 173 to 242 beds, these improvements will greatly expand services in Prince Albert and the north for years to come.

Our government has allocated $793 million for Saskatchewan’s post-secondary sector, representing a $28.2 million increase from last year. This budget provides for increased funding within the multi-year agreement, health training programs and seat expansions.

A one-time, $12-million increase will be provided to the province’s current multi-year funding agreement with post-secondary institutions. The increased funding ensures institutions remain responsive to the needs of students and the labour market.

In support of Saskatchewan’s Health Human Resources Action Plan, the budget provides nearly $15 million in new funding to train additional health care workers. This includes an $11.4 million operating increase for new seats across several programs.

More than 600 new seats will be added to training programs for various professions, with a focus on high-demand and hard-to-recruit professions, such as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, primary care paramedics and continuing care assistants. This supports our government’s ongoing efforts to expand seats in critical health training programs.

Additionally, the budget includes the continued expansion of Undergraduate Medical Education seats to train future physicians in the province. These investments will strengthen our health care system, providing greater access to health care for Saskatchewan people.

To help post-secondary students as they pursue careers in Saskatchewan, the Graduate Retention program continues. The program is the most generous support of its kind in Canada, providing tax credits of up to $20,000 to graduates who choose to work in the province. It has benefitted over 81,600 students to date.

Together with the great people of this province, our government will continue to build a strong and growing Saskatchewan for a brighter future for everyone. If you have any concerns or questions about government programs and services, you can contact my constituency office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net, or feel free to stop by our office, located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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The 2024-25 Provincial Budget makes record new investments in classrooms, care and communities. This budget ensures growth continues in our great province, with the largest-ever increase in school operating funding, health care and municipal revenue sharing.

Saskatchewan continues to grow faster than it has in more than a century, with more people choosing to call Saskatchewan home. The labour market also continues to grow, with more jobs and a low unemployment rate that combine to help fuel the provincial economy.

To keep life affordable for Saskatchewan people, there are no new taxes and no tax increases in this year’s budget. The budget includes $2.0 billion in previously announced tax reductions and other affordability measures. When taxes, utilities and housing costs are combined, our province is the most affordable place to live in Canada for a family of four.

Education will receive a record-level investment of $4.4 billion to support students and teachers. This includes $3.3 billion for the Ministry of Education, an increase of $247.8 million, and supports Prekindergarten to Grade 12 students, early learning, child care and libraries.

A record increase of $180 million will fund the 27 school divisions, totaling $2.2 billion in school operating funding for the 2024-25 school year. Additionally, $216 million is allocated for school infrastructure, with $165.9 million dedicated to ongoing school projects, including the new Francophone school in Prince Albert.

Our health care system will receive a record $7.6 billion investment to expand patient care and increase access to services. An investment of $180 million will fund the ongoing work at the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital. This facility will benefit the growing population in Prince Albert and northern Saskatchewan for many years to come.

Municipalities across Saskatchewan will receive a total of $340.2 million in unconditional support. This includes a record investment of $8.87 million allocated to Prince Albert. Since taking office in 2007, our government has provided Prince Albert with over $116 million in total funding to continue supporting its ongoing growth.

The 2024-25 Budget meets the challenges of a growing province by re-investing the benefits of a growing province in classrooms, care and communities. To learn more, please visit www.saskatchewan.ca/budget.

As I continue to represent your best interests in the Legislature, I look forward to hearing from you. You can contact my constituency office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or feel free to stop by our office, located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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The spring sitting of the Legislature began on March 4th and our government continues to move forward with investments that are important to the people of Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan’s Labour Market Strategy was recently unveiled by our government, outlining how the province will ensure Saskatchewan people will benefit from the jobs our strong economy is creating and ensure that employers have access to the workforce needed to succeed. The strategy focuses on preparing Saskatchewan people for jobs, recognizing skills in Saskatchewan and international recruitment.

A strong labour force drives healthy economies and successful communities, and this strategy is our government’s roadmap to secure a labour force that keeps pace with the growing demands and opportunities of our economy. Through strategic investments that align Saskatchewan’s work force with the needs of industry, we are ensuring that investment into our province is supported and that growth translates into a better quality of life for Saskatchewan people.

Recently, our government announced several breast cancer care and screening initiatives to support substantial detection and treatment enhancements for patients. These enhancements include the opening of a new Breast Health Centre in Regina, the expansion of provincial breast cancer screening eligibility, and the implementation of new breast cancer tumour localization technology.

The centre will provide services like diagnostic imaging, consultation with specialists and surgeons, patient education, support and navigation. It will also provide access to post-treatment care, such as therapies and rehabilitation. Set to open its doors in the 2024-25 fiscal year, the centre will be located at Regina Center Crossing on Albert Street. Our government will continue to invest in health care to help ensure Saskatchewan people have access to timely and quality care.

Here in Prince Albert, work continues on the Victoria Hospital project. Once complete, the hospital will have a heliport, an expanded emergency department, larger operating rooms, pediatrics, maternity, NICU, new medical imaging, and a First Nations and Métis Cultural space, among other key services. Overall capacity will increase by 40 per cent, from 173 to 242 beds. This will bring expanded service to Prince Albert and the north and will benefit surrounding areas for years to come.

As the MLA for the Prince Albert Carlton constituency, I look forward to hearing from you. Your questions or concerns help me continue to represent your best interests in the Legislature. You can contact my constituency office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or feel free to stop by our office, located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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Our government remains committed to investing in infrastructure, programs and services that matter most to the people of Saskatchewan. These investments help maintain the quality of life people deserve, making our province one of the best places to live, work and raise a family.

Work on the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital project continues to make great progress. Upon completion, the hospital will have a heliport, an expanded emergency department, larger operating rooms, pediatrics, maternity, NICU, new medical imaging, and a First Nations and Métis Cultural space, among other key services. Overall capacity between the new acute care tower and the existing facility will increase by 40 per cent, from 173 to 242 beds. This will bring expanded service to Prince Albert and the north and will benefit surrounding areas for years to come.

Strengthening our health care system also remains to be one of our government’s top priorities. Saskatchewan physicians and our government have ratified a new four-year contract, marking a significant achievement under our Health Human Resources Action Plan. The contract includes an overall average rate increase of 2.5 per cent over four years, a competitive market rate adjustment applied to the first year of the agreement and increased funding to support long term retention, parental leave and continuing medical education. This will help in retaining and recruiting physicians in our province and is a step forward toward greater access to primary health care for patients.

With tax season approaching, our government wants to remind families with children and youth participating in sports, culture, and recreation about the Active Families Benefit. Families earning up to $60,000 annually can receive up to $150 per year for each child under 18, or $200 for children eligible for the federal Child Disability Tax Credit. For parents who enrolled their children in recreational activities in 2023, receipts are needed to claim the benefit when 2023 taxes are filed later this spring. The Active Families Benefit makes activities more affordable and accessible, strengthening families and communities across our province.

Our government will continue to build and protect a strong Saskatchewan for the people of this great province. Your questions and concerns help me continue to represent your best interests in the legislature.

Please reach out to my constituency office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or feel free to stop by our office, located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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As the new year begins, our government continues to help the people of Saskatchewan with affordability.

Starting January 1, 2024, SaskEnergy removed the federal carbon tax from natural gas home heating and SaskPower removed it from electrical home heating. This will result in savings for approximately 98 per cent of Saskatchewan families. The federal government’s decision to exempt the carbon tax on home heating oil last fall left Saskatchewan families out in the cold; that’s why our government is protecting Saskatchewan families’ ability to afford to heat their homes this winter.

Customers will see a federal carbon tax charge on their January utility bills for natural gas or electricity used for heating in December. For usage after January 1, 2024, the federal carbon tax will appear as both a charge and a reversal credit. If you believe you are being incorrectly charged the federal carbon tax, you can contact SaskEnergy at 1-800-567-8899 or www.saskenergy.com/customer-support, and SaskPower at 1-888-757-6937 or contactus@sk.saskpower.com.

Low personal taxes and indexation are also among the measures our government is taking to help make life more affordable for the people of Saskatchewan. A family of four with an annual income of $75,000 will save $322 in 2024 because of indexing personal income tax. Indexation protects against bracket creep, which are the automatic tax increases caused by inflation.

When our government took office in 2007, a family of four started paying income tax at $26,150 of income. A family of four in Saskatchewan now pays no income tax on their first $59,475 of income. Reductions our government introduced have more than doubled the tax-free threshold. Saskatchewan also has among the lowest personal taxes in the country.

Saskatchewan families with children enrolled in sports, arts, and cultural activities will also continue to be able to claim the Active Families Benefit on their tax returns. The benefit provides a refundable tax credit of $150 per year, per child to eligible families. Families of children with a disability will receive an additional $50 for a total tax credit of $200 per year, per child. Our government will continue to work on keeping life affordable for the people of Saskatchewan.

Alongside helping with affordability is our government’s commitment to investing in infrastructure that matters to the people of Saskatchewan. The Prince Albert Victoria Hospital project is making great progress. Upon completion, the hospital will have a larger emergency department, enhanced medical imaging services including MRI, and an increased number of beds from 173 to 242. This will serve the residents of Prince Albert and surrounding communities for years to come.

As we look to 2024, our government will continue building and protecting a strong Saskatchewan. Your questions and concerns help me continue to represent your best interests in the legislature. Please reach out to my constituency office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or feel free to stop by our office, located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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The fall session of the legislature has concluded, and it has been an honour to represent Prince Albert once again. Our government continues building and protecting a strong province.

During the fall sitting, the Legislative Assembly unanimously passed The SaskEnergy (Carbon Tax Fairness for Families) Amendment Act. This legislation builds on our government’s previous announcement that SaskEnergy will stop collecting the carbon tax on natural gas bills for residential customers. To ensure fairness for families, our government also recently announced SaskPower will stop collecting the federal carbon tax on electrical home heating.

These decisions come in response to the federal government’s removal of the carbon tax from home heating oil earlier this fall. Our government’s policies will help protect Saskatchewan families from the harmful impacts of the federal government’s unfair and unaffordable carbon tax. While we continue to call on the federal government to remove the carbon tax on everything for everyone, Saskatchewan now has measures in place to ensure affordability for families to heat their homes this winter.

Our government remains committed to investing in programs, services and infrastructure that matter to the people of Saskatchewan. Work continues to come along nicely for the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital. Upon completion, the new and improved hospital will include a larger emergency department and enhanced medical imaging services including MRI. The project will also increase the number of beds from 173 to 242, which will serve residents of Prince Albert and surrounding communities for the years to come.

To help increase accessibility to breast cancer diagnostics, a new initiative will accelerate urgent diagnostic breast cancer procedures including breast mammograms and biopsies. A centralized booking system for breast imaging and 3D breast imaging will also be implemented across the province, and the highest-risk patients are now receiving diagnostic care here in Saskatchewan.

As we build on these improvements for health care in our province, we receive good news on the work being done by Saskatchewan’s surgeons and their teams. Our province’s surgical system achieved the highest volumes ever recorded from April to September 2023 totaling 47,748 procedures performed. This is an increase of 10.4 per cent over the same period last year. Our government will continue to invest in the health care system to maximize capacity and keep wait times trending downward.

Our government also continues to support students pursuing careers in health care with several programs and initiatives. The Student Loan Forgiveness Program for Nurses and Nurse Practitioners is being expanded to include Prince Albert. This expansion will help retain graduates to stay and work in our community and is a step forward in addressing the need for more nurses.

Earlier this fall, free, rapid-access counseling services were launched for children, youth and their caregivers in Prince Albert. The launch is part of our government’s annual funding of $3.2 million to Family Services Saskatchewan: $1.7 million in new funding for expanding rapid access counseling services to children and youth, and $1.5 million to provide ongoing services to adults and families. A key focus under our new province-wide Action Plan for Mental Health and Addictions is expanding our capacity for people to get help when and where they need it.

As we near the holiday season, I wish everyone all the best and a Merry Christmas. In preparation for the new year ahead, I look forward to hearing from you. Your questions and concerns help me continue to represent your best interests in the legislature. Please reach out to my constituency office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or feel free to stop by our office, located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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Remembrance Day is recognized in Canada on November 11 each year and on November 1, our government passed Bill 139 The Saskatchewan Remembrance Observance Act. Our veterans, current and past, have fought for our freedom and peace in Canada. Providing the right for workers to wear a poppy while in the workplace is a way to honour the sacrifices veterans and their families have made. The Bill ensures that employees wear a poppy recognized by the Royal Canadian Legion in the workplace if they choose unless it poses a danger to the health, safety or welfare of the worker or others.

Our government is committed to investing in services that matter most to Saskatchewan people. That is why we have been actively working with all levels of government along with Indigenous and community partners to continue addressing issues like homelessness in Saskatchewan. Supports are already underway for those in greatest need with our recently announced investment of $40.2 million to fund a new Provincial Approach to Homelessness. This will create 155 new supportive housing spaces, 120 new permanent emergency shelter spaces, and enhance community safety and outreach responses that include 30 new complex needs emergency shelter spaces. New permanent emergency shelter spaces in communities based on their need will mean approximately 500 permanent emergency shelter spaces are available this winter across the province.

In addition, the funding includes our government’s support to YWCA Prince Albert to add 45 new permanently enhanced emergency shelter spaces. YWCA Prince Albert provides shelter, supportive housing, and assistance to those in greatest need. The enhanced emergency shelters will provide full access to shelter (24 hours per day, seven days per week). Clients are also provided three meals per day, case planning and access to wrap-around supports to address wellness and cultural needs, with assistance in connecting to services such as financial support and help to transition to appropriate housing.     

Recently, the federal government announced a three-year exemption from the carbon tax for home heating oil. This exemption primarily benefits families in Atlantic Canada, where 40 per cent of them rely on heating oil compared to just 0.4 per cent in our province. In Saskatchewan, natural gas serves as our primary source for home heating, with 85 per cent of Saskatchewan households having natural gas furnaces.

This decision by the federal government has created a situation that makes life more affordable for families in one part of the country, leaving Saskatchewan families out in the cold. That is why we are calling on the federal government to extend the same carbon tax exemption to Saskatchewan families including all types of home heating such as natural gas.

If they do not, starting January 1, 2024, SaskEnergy will stop collecting and remitting the carbon tax on natural gas. This means Saskatchewan people will have the same exemption that the federal government is giving Atlantic Canadians who use heating oil.

As our government continues to move forward with the Fall session of the Legislature, I look forward to hearing from you. If you have questions, concerns, or comments, please reach out to my constituency office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or feel free to stop in our office, located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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As Saskatchewan’s economy and population continue to grow, our government remains focused on investing in the programs and services that matter most to Saskatchewan people. We continue to prioritize the four-point Health Human Resources Action Plan to recruit, train, incentivize and retain health care workers to our province. As part of that plan, increased funding for the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA) program continues to support internationally-trained physicians as they begin their practice in Saskatchewan.

This summer, 16 new doctors completed the SIPPA program and began practicing in rural and remote communities across the province. Along with SIPPA, other initiatives, such as the quadrupling of the Rural Physician Incentive Program, expanding medical residency seats at the University of Saskatchewan, and expanding post-graduate medical residency training sites across the province, continue to bring more physicians to our province and expand the capacity of our health care system.

Our government recently announced a new Action Plan for Mental Health and Addictions with an investment of $49.4 million over 5 years. A total of 500 new addictions treatment spaces will be created, more than doubling the number currently funded across the province. Work will begin immediately on a central intake system that patients can contact directly to refer themselves for mental health and addictions services.

The plan also includes expanding the Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools initiative to five more school divisions, with plans for more in future years; providing wrap-around mental health and addiction supports for residents of the new supportive housing units; and creating a Provincial Opioid Agonist Therapy (POAT) program to make addictions medicines more accessible across the province. This new plan will build a seamless continuum of care that includes detox, inpatient treatment, and supportive living.

Our government also recently announced an investment of $40.2 million over the next two years to fund a new Provincial Approach to Homelessness program. With temporary winter shelter spaces for Prince Albert already confirmed and beginning operations, we are continuing our work to create 120 new permanent emergency shelter spaces around the province based on need. Work is already underway with community-based service providers to determine the number of additional emergency shelter spaces in each community, including Prince Albert. Municipal governments will help to identify the location for any new emergency shelters with capacity limits appropriate for the neighbourhoods where they are located. More information will be provided as it comes available.

We have also expanded a new, mobile workforce initiative in response to conversations with community organizations to better support our shared clients with some of the challenges they experience. Prince Albert community organizations are involved in this initiative. Currently, mobile workers visit Homeward Bound, the Indian and Métis Friendship Center and the Prince Albert and District Community Services Center.

As our government continues to move forward on these important initiatives, I look forward to hearing from you. If you have questions, concerns or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my constituency office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or feel free to stop in our office, located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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As summer has wrapped up and students are back in school, our government announced some new policies regarding parental involvement in education. Schools are now required to seek permission before changing the preferred name and pronouns of students under the age of 16, parents must be informed about sexual education curriculum and have the option to opt out, and third-party organizations are no longer permitted to teach sexual education in schools.

These new policies come in response to concerns raised by parents across the province. Parent involvement is critical in every student’s education, and our government will continue to ensure safe learning environments where all students feel included, protected and respected.

Saskatchewan’s economy remains strong. This June, the province’s wholesale trade had increased by 70.5 per cent compared to June 2022, with a total value of $7.2 billion. As of July, housing starts are also up by 50.7 per cent compared to July 2022, ranking us second among the provinces.

After the first quarter financial report, Saskatchewan is forecasting a $485.5 million surplus – a strong bottom line. The plan to retire up to $1 billion in operating debt announced at budget remains on track. Our province’s net-debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be 13.4 per cent at the end of the fiscal year, which is currently ranked second among the provinces. Saskatchewan’s finances remain strong, with a substantial surplus, but we need to continue to be prudent and manage spending carefully.

Our strong economy allows us to invest in the programs and services that mean the most to Saskatchewan people. Some of these investments, like the Victoria Hospital and Rose Garden Hospice, are being made right here in Prince Albert.

The parking lot for the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital is coming along nicely. PCL Construction Management Inc is also working on the design for the new acute care tower. When completed, the number of beds at the Hospital will increase by 40 per cent, from 173 to 242. The project also includes a larger emergency department and enhanced medical imaging services, including an MRI. The new and improved Victoria Hospital will serve residents of Prince Albert and surrounding communities for years to come and I am so excited to see this project start to take shape.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Rose Garden Hospice was held on August 29, and the facility is now officially open. This facility will provide palliative care to residents and allow them to access these services in a comfortable, home-like setting here in Prince Albert.

Late last month, I was honoured to be named the Minister of SaskBuilds and Procurement by Premier Scott Moe. I look forward to serving the province and continuing to help encourage growth in my new role.

Representing the people of Prince Albert Carlton remains my top priority. As we move closer to the fall Legislative session, I would love to hear from you. Please reach out to my office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or feel free to stop in our office, located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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Our government is committed to investing in services that matter most to Saskatchewan people. The Prince Albert Victoria Hospital renovation and revitalization project is an example of that commitment. The hospital project has moved into the early works phase, which includes geotechnical drilling, utility work and the construction of a new parking lot. It’s very exciting to see the early construction works starting, as this means we are one step closer to beginning construction of the new hospital addition.

Upon completion, the Hospital will have 40 per cent more beds, a larger emergency department, and enhanced medical imaging services, including an MRI. This project will allow our hospital to continue serving residents of Prince Albert and surrounding areas for years to come.

Another exciting in our community, the Rose Garden Hospice, is now nearly complete and will be open soon. It will be great to see residents who require palliative care access these services in a comfortable, home-like setting right here in Prince Albert.

Our government is also committed to investing in mental health and addictions services across the province. The 2023-24 Provincial Budget includes a record $518 million in targeted investments in mental health and addictions services, an increase of 115 per cent since 2007.

The funding includes $2.2 million to increase addictions treatment spaces across the province to help decrease wait times and increase access for patients. A $1 million investment was made into the Drug Task Force, which prioritizes overdose outreach teams and drug alerts, and provides education and training. The Opioid Stewardship Program received $900,000 in funding to continue its work engaging with stakeholders and prescribers to promote appropriate use and treatment with opioids, and management of non-cancer pain.

Specifically here in Prince Albert, the budget included funding for the Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine Clinic. This clinic provides quick access to specialized addiction treatment services and connects individuals to services, including ongoing addiction treatment, mental health services, and other community programs. As our government continues to invest in high-priority programs and services, I will continue to stand up for your best interests. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to my constituency office. We are located at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive here in Prince Albert or you can reach us by phone at 306-922-2828 or email at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net.

Prince Albert Carlton MLA Report: July 2023

I am enjoying spending time around Prince Albert this summer attending community events, meetings, fundraisers, celebrations and more.

Our province recently received exciting news on our economy and labour force: more people are now working in the province than ever before – a total of 604,700. We’ve now seen more than two years of consistent job growth. A strong economy and growing labour force allows us to invest in programs, services and infrastructure that matter to Saskatchewan people.

You can see some of that growth right here in our city; the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital renovation and revitalization project is in the early phases of construction. The upgrades will increase the number of beds from 173 to 242, with space to expand further as needed. It will also include a larger emergency department and enhanced medical imaging services, including an MRI. This project will ensure Victoria Hospital is able to serve the people of Prince Albert and surrounding areas for years to come.

The new Rose Garden Hospice, located at 36th Street West, is nearing completion and beginning to hire staff. This facility will soon be open to serve those in our city and surrounding areas, who require palliative care in a more comfortable and home-like setting.

Our government wants to ensure the hospital and hospice in Prince Albert, as well as other health care facilities across the province, are staffed with health care professionals so everyone can get the care they need. That’s why we implemented the Health Human Resources Action Plan last fall, and we are seeing excellent results.

Since December 2022, 485 grad nurses from Saskatchewan and across Canada have been hired. The first Registered Nurses (RNs) from the Philippines have arrived and begun training to join Saskatchewan’s health care system. Training seats have been added for doctors, nurses, and other high-priority programs at institutions across the province. I want to remind anyone interested in a health care career that job shadowing opportunities are available through the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). More information on these and other career opportunities in health care are available at www.Saskatchewan.ca/HHR.  Throughout the summer, I enjoy meeting with constituents to hear concerns, opinions and ideas. These conversations truly help inform our plans to move forward with growth in the province. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 306-922-2828 or pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. You are also welcome to stop by the office at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive in Prince Albert.

MLA Report: Prince Albert Carlton

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Recently the province celebrated Economic Development Week, dedicated to highlighting the value of economic development and it’s role in Saskatchewan’s growth. Saskatchewan is experiencing strong economic growth; the province’s GDP increased by 5.7 per cent from 2021 to 2022, the highest growth rate in Canada. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry saw the highest rate of change, a 45.6 per cent increase in GDP.

In the 2023-24 Provincial Budget, our government has continued to invest in further economic growth in industries that impact northern Saskatchewan, such as forestry. It includes $89.4 million to build, operate and maintain the transportation system in northern Saskatchewan and an additional $6 million to preserve and maintain northern roads that support the province’s forestry industry.

To further drive the economic growth and prepare for the future, our government is making key investments in post-secondary education. This year’s budget includes $171.1 million for Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Dumont Technical Institute. An investment of $4 million will increase skilled trades training seats, primarily in construction-related trades, while another $1.2 million will increase the Apprenticeship Training Allowance for students living away from home to attend training. Investments in post-secondary education allow students to prepare for and pursue their careers of choice right here in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan’s strong economy allows our government to invest in the programs and services that make Saskatchewan the best place to live, work and raise a family. Work continues on the Design Early Works Phase of the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital project. When completed, the hospital will have a larger emergency department and enhanced medical imaging services, including an MRI. The hospital will serve the community of Prince Albert and surrounding areas to ensure you get the care you need.

Construction has officially begun on the new Elder’s Lodge in Prince Albert, consisting of two one-story buildings with a total of 11 homes. This facility will provide elders a secure and affordable place to call home with supports from the Prince Albert Community Housing Society Inc. and other social, health and housing supports. Residents are anticipated to move into the new units this fall. I will continue to provide updates on this project and the hospital as they become available.

Our strong economy and investments in Prince Albert continue to create growth that works for everyone. If you have any questions, please reach out to my constituency office by phone at (306) 922-2828 or by email at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or stop by the office at Bay 4 – 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report – Prince Albert Carlton

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Our government recently passed the 2023-24 Provincial Budget, which included some important investments for our city. One of the most notable is the $98.6 million investment in the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital redevelopment project, which will serve not only Prince Albert but the whole region.

Site preparation began on the hospital project earlier this year. This puts us one step closer to seeing a design and the start of construction. The project will increase the number of beds in Victoria Hospital by 40 per cent to 242 on opening day, up from the current 173 beds, with space to expand further as needed. It will include a larger emergency department and enhanced medical imaging services, including an MRI. As we move forward with this exciting project, I will provide updates. This investment is a part of our government’s ongoing commitment to improve health care services.

Another notable investment is the record $3.1 billion for education. This year’s budget funds several education capital projects, including two new projects in Prince Albert. A new Kindergarten to Grade 12 Francophone school will replace École Valois, and St. John Community School will receive renovations and repairs. I am excited to see work get underway on each one of these projects and I will provide updates when they are available. These important investments in schools will ensure facilities are prepared for continued growth, providing quality learning opportunities for our students.

The new Saskatchewan Distance Learning Corporation (Sask DLC) will establish one of its nine satellite campuses here in Prince Albert. Sask DLC will offer unique learning opportunities with over 180 courses for Kindergarten to Grade 12 levels, as well as Grade 12 completion for adult learners. This will ensure access to consistent, high-quality learning opportunities regardless of where students are in the province. Students will have the option to connect and receive instruction in person at the Prince Albert campus. To learn more or register for the 2023-24 school year, visit www.SaskDLC.ca.

Our government is investing in early learning and child care this year to support young families. Through a partnership with the federal government, parent fees for regulated child care have been reduced to $10 per day as of April 1, three years ahead of schedule. The budget also supports the continued efforts to add more child care spaces, including several in Prince Albert. Increased access to child care programs will support young families while ensuring our children get the best possible start in life.

To further support educational opportunities in Saskatchewan communities, public libraries will receive increased funding in the budget. A new investment will refresh the province’s collection of multi-lingual materials and add more materials in Indigenous languages. In addition, new Indigenous Language Scholarships will be established within the Ministry of Advanced Education this year to expand learning opportunities for our growing and diverse province.

Our government is committed to investing in Prince Albert; that is growth that works for everyone. If you have any questions, please reach out to my constituency office by phone at (306) 922-2828 or email at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or stop by the office at Bay 4 – 406 South Industrial Drive.

MLA Report Prince Albert Carlton

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Joe Hargrave, MLA
Prince Albert Carlton

I’ve enjoyed spending time in my community over the winter, meeting with constituents and learning about the things that matter most to Saskatchewan people. Our government is now back in Regina for the spring session of the Legislature and moving forward on priorities for growth.

Our province leads the nation in several key economic indicators. We posted our third consecutive year of record agricultural exports in 2022, totaling $18.4 billion. In January we had the highest rate of growth in wholesale trade among the provinces, increasing 24.1 per cent year-over-year. Manufacturing sales were up by 25.5 per cent, the second-highest growth rate among provinces.

Our strong economy is supported by a growing population. Saskatchewan reached the milestone of 1.2 million people in early December of 2022 and has since grown by another 10,000 people. That’s the fastest our province has grown in over 100 years. There were 16,400 new jobs in the province from January 2022 to January 2023. We also saw a record-high provincial labour force in January, with 606,300 Saskatchewan people working.

A strong economy allows us to provide the services that Saskatchewan people value, like community support and improved access to healthcare and education. Our government recently announced that regulated childcare fees will be reduced to $10 per day by April 1, three years ahead of schedule.

The Targeted Sector Support program is accepting applications until May 1. This program provides cost-shared grants for municipal projects that help build even better communities across the province.

Here in Prince Albert, work continues on the Victoria Hospital project, which will significantly improve access to care for our community. Prince Albert was also selected as one of 10 regional campuses for the Saskatchewan Distance Learning Corporation (SDLC). Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, students will be able to access regulated, quality online education through the SDLC.

Our government is committed to protecting Saskatchewan’s economic prosperity, now and into the future, allowing for continued growth. That’s why we introduced the Saskatchewan First Act during the fall sitting. The Act will protect our jurisdiction over natural resources against federal government interference, benefiting everyone living in this province. Our government expects to pass the Saskatchewan First Act this spring.

 I am honoured to represent the Prince Albert Carlton constituency in the spring session of the Legislature. If you have any questions or need assistance accessing government services, please contact my constituency office by phone at (306) 922-2828 or email at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. Or stop by the office at Bay 4 – 406 South Industrial Drive in Prince Albert.

MLA Report – Prince Albert Carlton

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In the coming days, Members of the Legislative Assembly from across the province will meet together in Regina to plan, debate and introduce new programs to support a growing province. Over the summer, our government announced several programs that will get a head start on that process of supporting growth.

A stable and growing healthcare workforce supports the expansion happening in our province right now. We have more businesses, more investment and more people living in Saskatchewan than ever before. Creating an environment that will lead to further sustainable growth is a top priority for our government. The Health Human Resource Action Plan will add 1,000 professionals to the healthcare section while building on numerous initiatives and incentives already in place.

Our four-point plan starts with recruiting hundreds of healthcare workers from abroad over the next two years. Senior officials will lead the recruitment, and four new health system navigators will help internationally educated healthcare workers settle into our province.

Saskatchewan will become the first province in the country to introduce an accelerated training, assessment and licensing process for internationally educated nurses. The first group of candidates will begin online training this fall as part of the second point of this four-point plan. We have added 150 nursing seats to the registered nursing, registered psychiatric nursing and nurse practitioner education programs to increase training opportunities here at home. Additionally, the Saskatchewan Health Authority is working with partners to develop a First Nations and Métis recruitment and retention strategy to complement this work.

The third part of the plan is a new incentive that will provide up to $50,000 over three years for hard-to-recruit positions in rural and remote areas. We will continue to offer loan forgiveness programs, bursaries and support to anyone interested in a healthcare career here in Saskatchewan. For example, the Student Loan Forgiveness Program encourages nurses and nurse practitioners to practice in rural communities by forgiving up to $20,000 of their Saskatchewan Student Loans.

Finally, we will work to retain more professionals by creating 100 new permanent full-time positions and converting 150 part-time positions into full-time for high-demand professions in rural and remote areas.

Our province continues to grow, and we are expanding the services and programs that residents need. We will deliver solutions that simplify processes, remove obstacles and cut red tape so qualified people can work in Saskatchewan as quickly as possible.

We have heard your concerns throughout our province about the need for veterinarians specializing in large animals. To that end, we have increased the number of subsidized seats at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine from 20 to 25. Students who practice in under-served rural or remote communities can access the Loan Forgiveness for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technologists program, which forgives up to $20,000 in Saskatchewan Student Loan debt. To learn more visit Saskatchewan.ca. If you have any questions about our programs or you need some assistance with government services, please contact my office. We can be reached by phone at 306-922-2828, email us at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net or pop by the office at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive in Prince Albert.

MLA Report for Prince Albert Carlton

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Saskatchewan is poised to lead the provinces in economic growth in 2022. According to private sector forecasts, there have been nearly 24 thousand new jobs created in the first seven months of 2022. While many expect other jurisdictions to fall into a recession, the Conference Board of Canada has projected Saskatchewan to be a leader in economic growth among the provinces.
The first quarter financial update forecasts a surplus of $1.04 billion, largely due to higher revenue from non-renewable resources. That’s a $1.51 billion improvement and will allow our government to move forward on our Plan for Growth.
Our government has introduced a four-point affordability plan to address the rising cost of living.
First, all Saskatchewan residents 18 years of age and older who have filed a tax return this year will receive a one-time $500 Saskatchewan Affordability Tax Credit cheque this fall.
Second, we are removing the PST from fitness and gym memberships and other recreational activities from the planned October PST expansion on admissions, entertainment and recreation. PST will not be charged to residents under 18 years of age participating in recreational activities such as golf, curling, hockey or similar sporting events.
Third, we will extend the small business tax rate reduction at 0 per cent retroactive to July 1, 2022 and delay the restoration of the rate to 2 per cent to July 1, 2024. This decision will support businesses as they continue to recover from the pandemic with an average savings of $3,000 for each small business.
Finally, we will retire up to $1 billion in debt.  The province’s projected surplus provides the ability to retire up to $1 billion in debt, meaning the province will no longer need to borrow for operations due to our improved financial position. This will save $49 million in interest costs which can be re-invested in our province.
Helping Saskatchewan people through a time of higher costs while making fiscally responsible decisions strikes the right balance. That’s growth that works for everyone.
This four-point plan is in addition to affordability support already announced. Support like the reducing child-care fees by 70 per cent compared to March 2021. This will bring us closer to our $10-a-day child care goal by 2025-26. We have provided school divisions across the province with a one-time investment of $20 million to assist with rising fuel and insurance costs for the 2022-23 school year. Seniors will benefit from changes to the Seniors Income Plan. The maximum monthly benefit will increase by $30 per month to $330 for singles and $295 per month for each pensioner in a married, two-pensioner household.
We believe in fiscally responsible governance that is sustainable. Thanks to the hard work of Saskatchewan people and our expanding business sector, we will continue to lead the country. We are committed to building a stronger province that will improve the lives of everyone who calls Saskatchewan home.
You can nominate someone who has made a significant contribution to society for the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal. The award was created to celebrate the 70th anniversary year of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Accession to the Throne. To find out more, visit Saskatchewan.ca/honoursawards. Nominations are open until October 31, 2022, and you can contact my office for assistance.
If you have any questions about our programs or need some assistance with government services, please get in touch with my office. We can be reached by phone at 306-922-2828, email us at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net or stop by the office at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive in Prince Albert.

MLA Report – Joe Hargrave

Our province continues to catch the attention of national and international organizations watching Saskatchewan’s growth with great interest. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our residents, businesses and investors, our economy is moving forward with significant strength.
The Statistics Canada June report shows that Saskatchewan has more people working than ever. Data shows that 22,300 jobs were added to the province over the last year, resulting in a record high of 592,900 jobs. Unemployment fell to 3.9 per cent, the second lowest among the provinces and the lowest since November 2014.
With our continued economic success and opportunity for future sustainable growth, two more major credit rating organizations have taken notice. Moody’s Investor Services has maintained Saskatchewan’s Aa1 credit rating, reflecting a strong financial picture. DBRS Morningstar also confirmed their AA credit rating for the province. In their report, they stated, “the elected government has long demonstrated commitment to a pro-growth agenda, a low and competitive tax regime, balanced budget and low debt.” This is a continuation of S&P Global Ratings who affirmed Saskatchewan’s AA credit rating and stable outlook in June of this year. The credit reports are another endorsement of Saskatchewan’s sound fiscal policy and direction.
Our government recognizes that inflation and the cost of living are top of mind for Saskatchewan families. Recently, we announced school divisions would receive a one-time investment of $20 million to assist with rising fuel and insurance costs for the 2022-23 school year. This boost will allow divisions to address inflationary costs rather than diverting resources from the classroom. With this additional investment, school operating funding will exceed $2 billion for the first time in provincial history.
Health Canada has now approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for children six months up to five years of age. The news has the Saskatchewan Health Authority working with families interested in the shot. Appointments can be booked online at saskatchewan.ca/COVID19-vaccine or by calling 1-833-Sask-VAX (1-833-727-5829). Clinics are being planned, but due to the amount of vaccine provided to our province, at-risk children are being given priority. Pharmacists cannot provide vaccinations to children younger than five, so pharmacies will not be participating in this phase of the vaccine rollout.
Also, Saskatchewan is expanding coverage for Trikafta, a cystic fibrosis (CF) medication. Starting August 1st, Trikafta will be available to CF patients ages six and older who meet the medical criteria. CF patients or parents/guardians of children with CF who think they may benefit from therapy with Trikafta are encouraged to speak with their physician.
You can nominate someone who has made a significant contribution to society for the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal. The award was created to celebrate the 70th anniversary year of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Accession to the Throne. The medal is a tangible way for the province of Saskatchewan to honour Her Majesty for her service to Canada. A total of 7,000 medals will be awarded at ceremonies held throughout the province during the Platinum Jubilee year. To find out more, visit Saskatchewan.ca/honoursawards. Nominations are open until October 31, 2022, and you can contact my office for assistance.
If you have any questions about our programs or you need some assistance with government services, please contact my office. We can be reached by phone at 306-922-2828, email us at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net or pop by the office at Bay 4, 406 South Industrial Drive in Prince Albert.

MLA Report — Joe Hargrave

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It has been a very busy Spring Session at the Legislature as our government presented a budget that highlighted Saskatchewan’s improving finances and provided a clear path to balance. Companies are choosing Saskatchewan because of the opportunities we have in our province. This allows us to make key investments in healthcare, education and mental health and addictions; because a growing Saskatchewan benefits everyone.
Saskatchewan is in a position of immense opportunity. Our Growth Plan has goals and actions to attract more jobs, people and investment. In order to support that growth, we need to expand our power generation. We have been working with the governments of Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick to evaluate the development and deployment of Small Modular Reactors, or SMRs. SMRs would complement renewable energy sources such as wind, solar or hydro, creating a reliable power network. This is just one of the many fields in Saskatchewan’s expanding and diversifying economy.
With a busy summer of tourism ahead, our government is working to support businesses through a labour shortage. We have provided $1 million in support for Hospitality Saskatchewan to promote careers in the hospitality and tourism sector. This investment will assist in attracting and training employees. A further $532,000 in one-time funding will provide training and support for Indigenous job seekers to develop skills needed for this industry.
Investing in Northern Saskatchewan is part of our Growth Plan as we promote the vast opportunities our province holds. Global investors are looking to us for the food, fuel, fertilizer and forestry products they need. Four forestry projects worth $1 billion are underway and will create over 2,600 jobs for Saskatchewan residents, largely in the north.
As we work to advance reconciliation and promote economic development, our government has expanded our support for Indigenous resource development projects. Through discussions with business owners and Indigenous leaders, a lack of access to capital funds was identified as a barrier to investment. In response, legislation will create the Saskatchewan Indigenous Investment Finance Corporation (SIIF). Loan guarantees are being offered to eligible First Nations and Métis communities and organizations to support investments in forestry, mining, oil and gas, energy production and value-added agriculture. This targeted investment will create more jobs and further strengthen our communities.
With the spring construction season underway in many parts of the province, crews are mobilizing on projects as part of our government’s record $3.2 billion capital plan. The plan includes $156.6 million in health care, $168.6 million in education, $31 million in post-secondary infrastructure, $479.5 million in transportation infrastructure, $268.6 million in transfers to municipalities to support infrastructure projects, and $291.8 million in government services infrastructure.
One of these capital projects underway is the $21.4 million twinning project on Highway 3, west of Prince Albert. The project will span almost eight kilometres from the junction of Highway 2 to the Shell River Bridge. The design includes a four-lane highway with a concrete median barrier in the centre of the road, four protected T-intersections, as well as new lighting throughout the corridor
Making Saskatchewan safer was a large part of the work we did this spring. The Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety continues to invest in the Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit with funding for two additional ICE investigator positions. With that new investment, our government now funds nine ICE investigator positions across three municipal police services: Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert. We also fund five RCMP resources dedicated to the provincial ICE unit as part of $2.1 million in funding this year. This important team conducted a record 853 investigations in 2021. 
This past month I had the opportunity to bring greetings on behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan at the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame Inductees’ Banquet. It was a wonderful celebration of the builders, athletes and organizations that help make the Prince Albert sports community strong.
Our Saskatchewan Party team looks forward to reconnecting with you this summer. After two years of emails and phone calls, we’re excited to have more face-to-face conversations again. Please continue to reach out to my office with feedback and concerns. This information can help us plan for the future and meet the needs of a growing province.
You can call my office at 306-922-2828 or send us an email to pacarltonmla@sasktel.net. We also encourage you to pop by at Bay 4 – 406 South Industrial Drive in Prince Albert.

Offended By A Luncheon?

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Too often today we’re quick to shutdown different viewpoints in society. I stay clear of Twitter and most of my Facebook time is focused on family, as social media can easily devolve into nasty echo chambers, especially when you dive into the political parts of them. I do however enjoy regularly reading national, provincial, and local opinions in our media, even the ones with very different from my own opinions.


I was however really concerned last week when Ken MacDougall’s column took such a negative turn.The column was focused on the Chamber of Commerce hosting Saskatchewan’s Finance Minister so local leaders could connect with her and learn more about the 2022-23 Provincial Budget. Ken admits that even before the event happened, he was planning on writing about its failings. So, perhaps he didn’t go into the event with an exactly open mind (I never did notice him actually attend the event), but I’d like to address a couple of things mentioned.Mr. MacDougall seemed offended at something I must have said about the importance of Highway 3 being twinned and that it shouldn’t have been a focus of mine. Firstly, on behalf of those involved in the 414 collisions and the families of the five fatalities lost on that stretch of highway over the past decade, I disagree. But I’ll go back to something that he and I do agree on: Prince Albert is the gateway to the north and we want it to remain that way. So yes, I am glad to see Highway 3 being twinned. The people west of the city are part of the area that Prince Albert is a hub for. It’s that same recognition of being a hub that made our government assume 100 per cent of the costs for the redevelopment of Victoria Hospital, unlike his NDP when they were in government.


I know Ken would protest these points, and say his comments were building to the question of a second bridge in the city. I would just remind him that the NDP, the party he ran as a candidate for, refused to spend “one thin dime” to support the bridge we already have. This government continues to work with the city on maintenance costs and inspection of that bridge through our Urban Highway Connector Program.


I was more surprised though by his assertions that this government isn’t “friendly” to forestry. Forestry has always been a large focus for this government, including being front-and-centre of the provincial Growth Plan to double the growth of our forestry sector. Whether it has been in supporting softwood lumber challenges with the U.S., biomass power projects, or the more recent initiatives to better catalogue forestry inventory to increase harvesting, forestry has always been a priority for this government.


As a direct result of our government’s unequivocal support for Saskatchewan’s forestry industry, incoming investment of over $1 billion will be realized in the next three years, the largest single investment ever in our forestry sector. In 2021, the forestry sector sold a record $1.8 billion worth of products (up 60% from previous year), supporting over 8,000 jobs. Indigenous people comprise over 27 per cent of Saskatchewan’s total forestry sector workforce, the highest of any province in Canada, and 30 per cent of the provincial timber supply is allocated to Indigenous businesses. By contrast, the NDP Mr. MacDougall holds membership to saw the loss of 1,300 forestry jobs when in government and, as recently as last year, debated party resolutions to decrease forest harvesting and production.


Lastly, to Mr. MacDougall’s concerns that the Chamber of Commerce isn’t asking the hard questions he wants regarding economic diversification, I would point to rare earth elements, helium, biotechnology, ag-processing, tech development, and our creative industries. These are all growing sectors this government is supporting with strong programs in this year’s budget. I’m surprised Mr. MacDougall is taking such as dim view of the bright future for Saskatchewan, but it just may be his orange-coloured glasses.

Prince Albert Carlton MLA Report

by Joe Hargrave, MLA

The Fall Session of the Legislature saw a lot of work completed that was first laid out in our Speech from the Throne. This work will keep us on track to fulfill promises to build a better, stronger, safer, better educated and more independent Saskatchewan.

Economic opportunities for Northern Saskatchewan have been plentiful this fall thanks to several major developments. Producing over $1.1 billion worth of sales in 2020, forestry is set to expand even further in 2022. There are approximately 8,000 jobs in the forestry industry right now, creating the largest economic sector for Northern Saskatchewan. Hundreds of businesses help to generate jobs and economic prosperity for the region and it’s only going to get better.

Already, nearly 2,400 new jobs are expected to be created in the area due to recent forestry announcements. One Sky Forest Products is building a new Oriented Strand Board mill in Prince Albert and will see a significant equity investment by Indigenous communities. At the same time, the reopening of the Paper Excellence pulp mill in Prince Albert will enhance Indigenous economic and labour development opportunities.

Saskatchewan is anticipated to harvest and produce record levels of timber and products in 2022. Development of the sector has the potential to generate over $2 billion in sales annually with nearly 12,000 jobs.

In addition to support for the forestry industry, another $2 million will support Northern Career Quest Inc. This funding will support training and employment services to Indigenous job seekers residing in the northern part of the province.

Northern Career Quest Inc. will facilitate industry-led training programs, employability supports and employment services to 400 Indigenous job seekers. Leveraging their strong industry partnerships, Northern Career Quest will meet the needs of both labour supply and demand in response to emerging needs for the area, including the hospitality, health, natural resource and infrastructure sectors, among others.

Furthering investment in the province and strengthening opportunities for the Indigenous business sector, $75 million was announced in the Speech from the Throne this fall to create the Saskatchewan Indigenous Investment Finance Corporation.

This new corporation will provide funding to Indigenous communities and organizations interested in making equity investments in resource development projects. The initiative will also support the Truth and Reconciliation call to action to build stronger economies in Indigenous communities.

Moving on our commitment to make Saskatchewan safer, 30 locations across are now providing take-home drug test strips for the general public to help address the dramatic increase in drug overdoses that our communities have been facing.

Of the 149 confirmed accidental drug toxicity deaths in 2021, 72 per cent involved fentanyl. Those who use drugs often do not know if fentanyl is present at the time of consumption since it cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. Mixing benzodiazepines (benzos) with opioids like fentanyl increases the risk of an overdose.

While a negative result on a test strip does not guarantee that the substance is safe for consumption, the test will show if there are fentanyl or benzo compounds in the sample that was tested. These strips can be used as another tool to limit potential overdoses.

A record $458 million has been invested in mental health and addictions services for 2021-22, an increase of $23.4 million over last year. Of that, $2.6 million is specifically dedicated to harm reduction initiatives.

If you have questions, comments, concerns or require assistance with provincial government programs or services, I encourage you to contact our Constituency Office located at 406 South Industrial Drive, Prince Albert. We can be reached by telephone at 306-922-2828 or by e-mail at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net.

MLA Report

There’s a lot of dirt moving in and around Prince Albert this summer and it’s great to see. The summer construction season has seen site work on the Rose Garden Hospice and Aquatic Centre projects, as well as needed safety improvements to area highways.

Earlier this summer we celebrated the opening of two new sets of passing lanes between Prince Albert and Christopher Lake with planning underway to twin an eight-kilometre section of Highway 3 from Prince Albert to the Shell River Bridge. That project is planned for a fall tender.

Highway 3 between Prince Albert and the Shell River Bridge will be twinned, becoming an eight kilometre stretch of divided four-lane highway. This vital roadway connects Prince Albert with communities to the northwest, including the towns of Shellbrook, Big River and the Village of Debden. Th Ministry of Highways recently initiated planning and design work for the project and will begin the consultation and engagement process in the coming weeks and months.

The Ministry has developed a strategic design for the project aimed primarily at improving safety for intersections along the highway. This includes:

  • A four-lane divided highway with a concrete median barrier in the centre of the road;
  • Reduced speed limits to increase reaction time and safety for motorists;
  • Protected T-intersections, similar to those constructed in Saskatoon, which have reduced collision risks compared to current T-intersections; and
  • Upgraded or reconstructed service roads to accommodate additional traffic.

Currently, the speed limit is 100 km/hr on Highway 3. This will be lowered to 90 km/hr after twinning is completed, resulting in only an additional 30 seconds to drive through the corridor. This will also eliminate the severity of head-on collisions with oncoming traffic. The lower speed limit will increase safety in conjunction with the concrete median barrier in the middle of the road.

The Ministry of Highways is also constructing three sets of passing lanes between the Shell River Bridge and Shellbrook as a safety improvement along Highway 3.

In the city, we know that paratransit is critical for people with disabilities to access reliable travel to school, work, medical appointments, and other daily activities.

This year, I’m pleased to say Prince Albert is among the municipalities receiving capital assistance grant funding toward the purchase of paratransit buses.

The Transit Assistance for People with Disabilities program is an annual provincial grant program available to municipalities like ours that offer paratransit services.

I’m glad that our government can continue to partner with the City of Prince Albert to support people with disabilities and reduce barriers in our community.

Investments in early childhood development community programs are also supporting families and children here in P.A. and across the province.

Our government is allocating over $23 million in funding to support the continuation of the Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECIP), KidsFirst Targeted and Regional Programs and Early Years Family Resource Centres (FRCs).

The KidsFirst Targeted Programs provide supports for child development, parenting and mental health and addiction treatment services.

FRCs support families through parent education, family wellness initiatives and referrals to other community services.

ECIPs support families with children experiencing developmental delay or disabilities.

We are pleased to make these investments to give more support options to growing families here at home and across the province.

As always, if you require assistance with government programs or services, or if you wish to provide ideas and feedback for improvement, please visit the Prince Albert Carlton Constituency Office at Bay 4 – South Industrial Drive. You can also reach us by calling 306-922-2828 or by e-mail at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net.

MLA Report

by Joe Hargrave

It has been a very warm and eventful few weeks as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and do our best to have a great Saskatchewan summer!

All public health orders and restrictions have been lifted, most Saskatchewan residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and it is clear that vaccines are working. They are reducing transmission, keeping people out of hospital, and saving lives.

From get-togethers and public events to shopping and vacations, residents are returning to more normal activities and that is great to see. However, COVID-19 still poses a risk to those who have not been vaccinated. So, if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to go and get your first shot and then, when it’s time, finish the job and get your second. It takes two weeks from your second dose to achieve optimal protection, so consider looking ahead at where you plan to be for the long weekend, for back to school, and get vaccinated.

For guidance on COVID-19, including the requirements for self-isolation if you have a positive test, expectations around masking, information for businesses and workplaces, and visitation requirements for acute care and care homes, visit www.saskatchewan.ca/living-with-covid.

I recently had the opportunity to join with colleagues, as well as members from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and Rural Municipality of Buckland, to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for two new sets of passing lanes between Prince Albert and Christopher Lake.

These passing lanes, the first to be completed under our $2.4 billion stimulus program, will greatly improve safety in the area. Studies have shown passing lanes can reduce collisions by as much as 25 per cent and, over the next two years, our government will be constructing 30 new sets of passing lanes, building on the 27 sets constructed in the last four years.

Planning is also underway to twin an eight-kilometre section of Highway 3 from Prince Albert to the Shell River Bridge. This project is planned for a fall 2021 tender. In addition, three sets of passing lanes are being constructed between the Shell River Bridge and Shellbrook as a cost-effective safety improvement on that portion of the corridor.

The Government of Saskatchewan has invested more than $10.6 billion in highways infrastructure since 2008, improving more than 17,100 kilometres of highway. This is in addition to more than 1,350 kilometres of provincial highways constructed this year as part of the 10-year Growth Plan goal to build and upgrade 10,000 kilometres of highway. With this year’s projects, the province is ahead of the pace needed to meet this target.

The recent groundbreaking for Rose Garden Hospice in Prince Albert was an exciting and emotional day. It served as a reminder of the dedication of so many individuals, businesses, and organizations that have supported the project through the years.

The hospice has been a long-time passion project for me and for so many others. I have pushed for it and I’m proud to say that once construction is complete, the province will provide operating funds for a 10-bed facility that will deliver patient-centred, end-of-life care in a home-like environment. The Rose Garden Hospice project is a wonderful initiative that has been embraced by our community and I look forward to its completion.

As always, if you require assistance with government programs or services, or if you wish to provide ideas and feedback for improvement, please visit the Prince Albert Carlton Constituency Office at Bay 4 – South Industrial Drive. You can also reach us by calling 306-922-2828 or by e-mail at pacarltonmla@sasktel.net.

MLA Report – Prince Albert Carlton

by Joe Hargrave
MLA’s report

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly taken a toll on all of us which is why I am so encouraged to see so many of you getting vaccinated. Saskatchewan’s plan to gradually lift the public health orders in place to combat COVID-19 recently took a big step forward. This past weekend, Step 1 of our Re-Opening Roadmap began with household gathering limits expanding up to 10 people and attendance at worship services, public gatherings, and table limits at restaurants all increasing. Youth and adult outdoor sports are now able to resume as well.

We recently announced that Step 2 of our Re-Opening Roadmap will begin June 20th. This means no capacity limits on retail, personal care services, bars, and restaurants; further increases to private gathering sizes; and no more restrictions on indoor sports. Most importantly, this means we are one step closer to getting back to normal.

From adapting and adjusting to changing public health guidelines to getting the first and now second vaccinations, the people of our province are doing an amazing job of getting us to this point. People are getting vaccinated, and vaccines are working. They are driving down case numbers and hospitalizations and making Saskatchewan safer.

Once we reach the vaccination threshold for Step 3, we will be a few weeks away from most remaining restrictions being lifted, setting the stage for a great Saskatchewan summer. This is a credit to all those who are rolling up their sleeves and sticking it to COVID.

We are closer than ever to beating this thing and can’t afford to become complacent now. Make sure you get your first shot and, when you’re eligible, follow it up with your second.

I am so encouraged to see so many young people lining up to get their COVID-19 vaccine. Students, particularly those nearing the end of their high school careers, have had to adapt to the pandemic in ways we never imagined. As we approach graduation season, I am reminded of the many students in our community preparing to take the next step in their young lives. Congratulations to the Class of 2021 and best wishes for a bright future!

The 2021 road construction season is underway which means planning ahead and slowing down in construction zones. While construction causes delays, we can look forward to better, safer roads and highways. Work this season includes Highway 2 passing lanes north of Prince Albert and Highway 3 passing lanes west of the city.

Work on the Highway 2 passing lane project is 25 per cent complete and scheduled to finish in October. The contractor started culvert boring in April and culvert installations are ongoing. The north-bound passing lane has been milled and they’re working on the subbase for the south-bound passing lane. The contractor has indicated they plan to work through until the long weekend in July. The contractor has also recently been paving a section of Highway 355 nearby.

As part of the Government of Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan, the Ministry of Highways will be improving 10,000 km of provincial highways and roadways by the end of 2030. This year will see 1,350 km of improvement on top of 1,000 km in 2020, putting the province ahead of schedule in its decade-long target.

Joe Hargrave is the MLA for Prince Albert Carlton

MLA Report

by Joe Hargrave
MLA Report

The Victoria Hospital project is moving ahead with the selection of Stantec Ltd. as the team responsible for technical advisory work and leading the design of the expansion and renewal. Stantec will begin work immediately, which will lead to a multi-stage procurement for design and construction this fall. The actual construction phase is expected to begin in 2022.

The project – expected to cost more than $300 million – includes a new acute care tower, the replacement of the existing mental health space and renovations to the current facility. The total number of beds available is expected to increase by approximately 40%, with space to expand further as needed. This is a significant investment that will serve not only the people of Prince Albert, but the entire northern half of the province for years to come.

This week our government released a three-step plan to gradually lift the current public health orders based on vaccination thresholds, vaccine availability, and timing between steps. This plan provides an incentive to follow public health measures and get vaccinated.

Step One will commence three weeks after 70% of residents age 40 and above have received their first dose, and once vaccine eligibility has opened to all adults age 18 and older. This will see the cautious easing of public health measures, including:

  • Restaurants and bars open, maximum of six at a table, two metres or structural barriers between tables, dance floors and buffets remain closed, VLTs may re-open;
  • 30% of capacity or 150 people, whichever is less, at places of worship, with physical distancing between households;
  • Group fitness classes involving intense training, like aerobics and spin, can resume, with three metres between participants;
  • Current restrictions remain in place for retail, personal care services, event facilities, casinos, bingo halls, theatres, art galleries, libraries and recreational facilities;
  • Current protocols remain in place for primary, secondary and post-secondary education and for childcare;
  • Limit of 10 people at private indoor and outdoor gatherings, including household gatherings;
  • Limit of 30 people at public indoor gatherings;
  • Limit of 150 people at public outdoor gatherings; and
  • Current province-wide masking mandate remains in place.

    Step Two will commence three weeks after 70% of residents age 30 and above have received their first dose, with at least three weeks passing since the commencement of Step One. Public health measures in Step Two are planned to be eased as follows:
  • No capacity thresholds on retail and personal care services, must maintain an occupancy that allows for physical distancing;
  • Restaurants and bars will have no table capacity thresholds, must maintain two metres of physical distancing or structural barriers between tables, dance floors and buffets remain closed;
  • 150-person maximum capacity at event facilities, casinos, bingo halls, theatres, art galleries, libraries and recreational facilities, must maintain an occupancy that allows for physical distancing, restaurant guidelines apply at venues that serve food;
  • No change from Step One at gyms and fitness facilities, primary, secondary and post-secondary education and childcare;
  • All remaining restrictions on youth and adult sports will be lifted;
  • Limit of 15 people at private indoor gatherings, including household gatherings;
  • Limit of 150 people at public indoor gatherings and private and public outdoor gatherings; and 
  • Current province-wide masking mandate remains in place.

Step Three will commence three weeks after 70% of residents age 18 and older have received their first dose, with at least three weeks passing since the commencement of Step Two. In Step Three, most remaining restrictions will be lifted. Guidance on gathering sizes and indoor masking will be developed based on the progress of the first two steps. Public health orders from Step Two on gathering sizes and indoor masking will remain in place until that guidance is finalized.

I am encouraged – just in time for Mother’s Day – that seniors living in our long-term care and personal care homes are starting to see their families again after a year of difficult but necessary restrictions. Long-term care and personal care home residents are now able to welcome up to two visitors at a time indoors and up to four visitors at a time outdoors if at least 90% of the residents in that facility have been fully vaccinated, and three weeks have elapsed since the last second dose vaccinations. Seniors who are fully vaccinated will also be able to leave the facility and return without having to quarantine. This is a small step in getting back to the people we love to see and the places we love to go and the things we love to do.

Thank you all for everything you have done over the past year. You are making Saskatchewan a safer place. Please keep protecting yourselves and those around you by following all the public health orders and guidelines and – when it’s your turn – roll up your sleeve and stick it to COVID.

A budget to protect, build and grow

by Joe Hargrave
MLA’s report

Budgeting is about finding a balance between revenue and expense – but it is also about priorities. Prioritizing public dollars is a challenge for all levels of governments at the best of times but it truly tests our mettle when meeting the challenges of a global health pandemic.

The current circumstances call for a significant response, not just here in Saskatchewan, but across Canada and around the world.
The 2021-22 provincial budget delivers dollars to protect, build and grow Saskatchewan in response to the biggest economic shock we have experienced since the Second World War. It protects the health and safety of our people and our economy, builds our province through investments in infrastructure to stimulate economic activity, and grows Saskatchewan through incentives and key investments.

Among the many highlights of local interest is a significant safety enhancement with funding to twin a section of Highway 3 west of Prince Albert to Shellbrook. We can expect to see design work, safety studies, and stakeholder consultations with a work tender this fall. This twinning is in addition to the six sets of passing lanes on track to be completed along the same stretch later this year.
The budget also includes funding to advance the Victoria Hospital project. I know that the residents of our area are thankful for these projects and I’m delighted to see them on track and moving forward.

In addition to $1.5 billion for COVID-19 response, part of a multi-year $4.8 billion allocation, the budget includes record funding for health, education, social services and the protection of people and property.

This budget funds the hiring of 100 continuing care aides, the first year of a three-year commitment to hire 300 continuing care aides.

It supports children with Autism and their families by expanding the ASD program to provide individualized funding for children ages six to 11.

The budget expands eligibility under the Insulin Pump Program which means the cost of an insulin pump is now covered for all residents who needs one. Funding also covers continuous glucose monitoring for those under age 18.

I am pleased to say that this budget supports low-income seniors with the maximum benefit under the Seniors Income Plan increasing by $30/month effective July 1, 2021.

It also reduces ambulance fees for seniors to $135 per trip and provides funding for additional ambulances and a new STARS helicopter.

Budget 2021-22 helps students with the cost of tuition with an increase to the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship from $500 to $750 annually and creates more childcare spaces in Saskatchewan with funding as part of a four-year commitment to provide 750 new licensed centre spaces.

The budget reinstates the Community Rink Affordability Grant, assisting hundreds of communities with operating and improving ice surfaces, funds the Veteran Service Club Support Program which will grow from $100,000 to $1.5 million this year, and also keeps life affordable for families with a benefit for children enrolled in sport, recreation, and cultural activities.

This budget provides the largest ever budget for school divisions, includes the highest ever grant to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, and delivers on 14 specific campaign commitments to make life more affordable for Saskatchewan people.
You can learn more at saskatchewan.ca/budget.

I welcome the support of our budget from the Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce, along with the acknowledgement that our initiatives will help keep the economy moving.

Throughout this pandemic, we have witnessed Saskatchewan’s resolve, as our people made the sacrifices required to protect not only themselves, but also their families, friends, neighbours and co-workers.

When this pandemic is over, we will witness Saskatchewan’s resilience, as our economy recovers and grows, as businesses reopen and more people return to work, and as Saskatchewan recovers to be even stronger than before.

Joe Hargrave is the MLA for Prince Albert Carlton. His column appears monthly.

Prince Albert Carlton MLA Report

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by MLA Joe Hargrave

It is hard to believe almost a year has passed since the announcement of a renewed and expanded Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert, which I am pleased to say is still on track and proceeding as planned.

The following week, Saskatchewan confirmed its first case of COVID-19 and the global health pandemic has been a top priority ever since.

Saskatchewan, much like virtually every other jurisdiction in the world, shut down a sizeable part of the economy to contain the spread of the virus.

It had to be done to protect us and our health-care workers who have been so heroic throughout the pandemic.
The economy suffered and governments at every level took immediate action to support businesses, workers, families and communities.

Our government alone has invested nearly $4.4 billion in responding to the pandemic and supporting our economic recovery.
At the provincial level, we understood that we had to work with our municipal partners to deal with the immediate crisis, and to kick start the recovery.

We fast tracked revenue sharing so our communities could address the pressures right away.

As part of our two-year, $7.5 billion capital plan, we also committed $320 million to municipal infrastructure – new money – that included the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program. Altogether, more than 760 communities took advantage of this initiative.
Today, with meaningful public health guidelines in place, the number of COVID-19 cases have stabilized and are starting to come down.

Our government will never discount or diminish the danger of the COVID-19 virus.

We mourn with the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones, and our thoughts are with those who are ill today and may be facing a long road to recovery.

Much of our economy is open and operating safely because businesses have, for the most part, operated responsibly by adapting and investing to ensure their customers and staff are safe.

These efforts are keeping people working and earning a paycheck.

On the vaccine front, we put our initial supply of vaccine into people’s arms faster than any other province.

Shipments from the federal government should pick up again soon and we will be ready to ramp up and get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible.

As we move further down that road, we will shift our focus to the recovery.

In Saskatchewan, we’ve weathered the storm better than most provinces.

Right now, we have the highest percentage of small businesses operating and the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

Saskatchewan is leading the nation in wholesale trade growth, our exports are surging, and our agriculture shipments are up more than 30 per cent year-over-year.

Even real estate sales are red hot, up nearly 50 per cent year-to-year.

While we have lost a lot of jobs in Saskatchewan, we are determined to get them back and get our economy on track.

In government, we’re supporting the recovery in many ways, including the implantation of our campaign promises:

• We cut power bills by 10 per cent for one year – a $260 million rebate that will benefit everyone in the province.

• We cut the small business tax rate from two per cent to zero – we’re going to leave it at zero for the next year and a half, before going to 1 per cent for a year, and then back to 2 per cent in 2023.

• We put into place a new Saskatchewan Home Renovation Tax Credit – it will be in effect for the next two years, saving homeowners about $124 million while boosting our construction industry.

• We’re continuing to roll out the $7.5 billion in infrastructure funding, this year and next.

• We’re building new schools and hospitals and new long-term care homes while continuing to invest in major renovations.

• We’re building new highways and fixing old ones; and

• We’re investing in our municipalities.

While this has been one of the toughest years we have ever experienced, there are so many reasons to be optimistic about our future in Saskatchewan. Here in Prince Albert, there’s optimism surrounding the forestry sector at a time when we’re looking forward to exciting new projects like the hospital expansion and the new aquatic centre.

Getting back to normal means getting back to the business of building a strong, growing, confident Saskatchewan. We will do this together with strength and determination knowing that better days – our best days – are still ahead.

End of session report

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Joe Hargrave, MLA for Prince Albert Carlton

A productive legislative session has come to an end with a number of new measures and legislation that will strengthen Saskatchewan. This includes improved WCB coverage for firefighters and legislative amendments that will improve enforcement of child support orders.

The Tobacco Control Amendment Act, 2019, will bring vaping products in line with existing tobacco legislation, while The Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, will also give Saskatchewan the ability to have direct action against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Our government is also taking action to get tougher on distracted driving – a serious safety concern that kills and injures people. In 2018 alone, we saw 774 injuries and 22 deaths due to distracted driving or driver inattention. Starting in February, the cost of a ticket will more than double, and the cost of subsequent tickets will escalate.

One of the local highlights of the latest legislative session came late last month when I had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of a new clinic here in Prince Albert to help those in need of addictions services and support.

The Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinic provides people with addictions challenges quick access to specialized services including team of physicians, nurses and counsellors to help with their treatment journey.

The Prince Albert clinic, at 101 – 15th St. E., is the first of its kind in Saskatchewan. The 2019-20 Budget provides $1.6 million to support the launch of Prince Albert’s RAAM clinic, as well as two others in Regina and Saskatoon.

RAAM clinics have been established in other parts of Canada, including Ontario and Manitoba, where they have helped to reduce emergency department visits, shortened wait times and improved outcomes for patients.

Importantly, the fall legislative session set the stage for a new decade of growth with the introduction of a growth plan that will serve as a roadmap for a growing province of 1.4 million people and a strong economy with 100,000 new jobs.

Premier Moe has also outlined steps that Saskatchewan is taking to advance our economic future, and to assert provincial autonomy. This includes an announcement that Saskatchewan will be aggressively advancing our own trade interests by establishing trade offices in Japan, India and Singapore.

You can learn more at saskgrowthplan.ca.

The provincial budget continues to be the right balance for Saskatchewan. The Mid-Year Financial Report, released just prior to the end of session, shows that our government remains on track to balance the 2019-20 budget, with a projected increase in the budget surplus.
Meanwhile, the NDP continues to demonstrate weak leadership with no commitment to balance the budget. In fact, their Finance critic recently admitted that the NDP would run deficit budgets if they were in government.

Fiscal responsibility is a key focus in Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan for The Next Decade. Your Saskatchewan Party government will keep the budget balanced, keep taxes low, and ensure Saskatchewan remains strong for many years to come.

As always, if you have questions, concerns or comments, or if you need assistance with government programs or services, please contact my MLA office at 306-922-2828 or visit us at Bay 4 – 406 Industrial Drive in Prince Albert.

MLA’s report — November update

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Joe Hargrave, Prince Albert Carlton MLA

On November 8th, I joined with the City of Prince Albert to celebrate the completion of the New River Street Water Reservoir project. This project will strengthen and support community growth by increasing drinking water storage and capacity, as well as increasing the availability of safe drinking water. Our Government is proud to have invested $3 million to have safe reliable drinking water for the people of Prince Albert, now and for the future.

The New River Street Reservoir Project is one of many important infrastructure projects our government has helped support. Since 2007, we have invested over $35 million to the City of Prince Albert’s infrastructure. This includes $1 million in pavement upgrades; $700,000 to road utility reconstruction; a half-million dollars to the Westhill Paving Project; and $20 million to the Aquatic and Arena Recreation Centre.

The new Aquatic and Arena Recreation Centre will include two 68,000 square foot hockey rinks and a 47,000 square foot aquatic centre. The Government of Saskatchewan is proud to provide funding for this project and we appreciate the financial support from the City of Prince Albert and the Government of Canada. I am very much looking forward to its completion and to be able to enjoy the new facilities with my family.

Our Government is proud to have invested in so many infrastructure projects in the great city of Prince Albert and we will continue to do so.

On November 19, I announced that there will be tougher penalties for distracted driving in Saskatchewan. These new penalties will be harsh and hefty because many people continue to risk their lives and the lives of others on our roads.

Police across the province have been catching more distracted drivers than ever before. In 2018 alone, we saw 774 injuries and 22 deaths due to distracted driving or driver inattention. Enough is enough and people need to get the message.

Currently, a distracted driving ticket costs the recipient $280 plus four demerits, with vehicle seizures for repeat offenders. Starting February 1, 2020, the cost of a ticket will more than double, and the cost of subsequent tickets will escalate.

  • First offence – $580 ticket plus four demerits.
  • Second offence within a year of being convicted of the first – $1,400 ticket, plus an additional four demerits, plus an immediate, seven-day vehicle seizure. 
  • Third offence within a year of conviction of the first – $2,100 ticket, plus four more demerits and another seven-day vehicle seizure.

Distracted driving kills and injures people; it is a serious safety concern, and our government is sending a direct message to drivers. Yes, the tickets are costly. If you don’t want one, put the phone down, keep your head up, and focus on the road.

The highlight of the fall session of the legislature, which continues in Regina, has been the introduction of Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan for the next decade.

Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan is a roadmap for a growing province of 1.4 million people and a strong economy with 100,000 new jobs by 2030. Our plan includes 20 actions for the 2020s in order to achieve 30 goals by 2030.

You can learn about Saskatchewan’s Plan for Growth at saskgrowthplan.ca.

Growth will create new jobs and more opportunities for young people to realize their future in our province, while attracting skilled and entrepreneurial newcomers from around the world. Most importantly, growth will afford us the ability to invest in a better quality of life for Saskatchewan families and communities.

As always, if you have questions, concerns or comments, or if you need assistance with provincial government programs or services, please contact my MLA office at 306-922-2828 or visit us at Bay 4 – 406 Industrial Drive in Prince Albert.

Where the money went

Joe Hargrave

MLA’s report

Today there are several billboards here in Prince Albert that read “MLA Joe Hargrave: Where Did The Money Go?” The question is the very same that was asked and answered repeatedly in the lead up to the 2016 provincial election. No matter who asks the question, the SGEU or the NDP, or how many times it is asked, the answer is the same and perhaps bears repeating.

The money went to over $5.5 billion in cumulative tax relief, including the largest education property tax reduction in Saskatchewan history.
112,000 Saskatchewan people no longer pay any provincial income tax at all.

Billions more went to pay down operating debt. Even with recent deficits, the operating debt is still 10% lower than it was in 2008, saving $1 billion in interest payments.

Over $27 billion went to infrastructure that had long been neglected under the previous NDP government; this includes work on Diefenbaker Bridge, area highways and the twinning of Highway 11 between Prince Albert and Saskatoon.

More than $37 million went towards the development of 335 rental and homeownership units in Prince Albert, as well as 24 existing shelter beds. Over $5 million was invested to repair an additional 313 units right here in our community.

The money paid for 840 new teaching positions, 173 more student support teachers, and helped to build 40 new and replacement schools, including École St. Anne.

The money went to major school renovations, including a new gymnasium at Carlton Comprehensive, as well as upgrades to several local schools.

The money went to health care infrastructure like the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon and planning for the renewal of Victoria Hospital here in P.A.

The money was invested in long-term care facilities and supports for seniors, including the tripling of benefits under the Seniors Income Plan.

The money went to almost 900 more doctors, more than 3,700 additional nurses of every designation, and it helped us to more than double funding for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.

Saskatchewan’s surgical wait time initiative took our wait times for surgery from the very longest in the country to among the very the shortest.

The money went to municipal police positions in Prince Albert.

The money went to thousands of new child care spaces with more being added every year.

The money has helped to more than double the supports provided to people with disabilities, as well as increase support for child and family programs.

That’s where the money went and I am very proud of that.

As you know, Saskatchewan has been hit hard by a sharp decline in resource revenue in recent years. Your Saskatchewan Party government put together a three-year plan to meet the challenges brought on by persistently low commodity prices and return to balanced budgets by next year.

After experiencing sharp decline in resource revenues, getting the province’s finances back on track was key to ensuring the services people expect are sustainable for generations to come. I am pleased to say that our plan to reduce the province’s reliance on resource revenue, control and carefully manage spending, and achieve a balanced budget by 2019-20 is on track.

Even at a time of fiscal restraint our government continues to support the priorities of Saskatchewan people through major investments in health care, education, social services, and the protection of people and property. We are also continuing to invest in needed infrastructure, hospitals, schools and highways across the province while helping to support a strong and growing economy.

Today Saskatchewan’s economy is showing resilience. Oil patch production has increased and potash mines are more active, reflecting higher resource prices. Agriculture, the service industry, the manufacturing sector, and other engines of the economy are steady and Saskatchewan’s finances continue to improve. In fact, last year’s deficit improved by nearly $400 million.

The priorities of Saskatchewan people are the priorities of your Saskatchewan Party government. We will continue to stand with the people and industries that drive growth and support our families. This means working through the challenges we face to keep Saskatchewan – and Prince Albert – growing strong now and for the future.

Joe Hargrave is the MLA for Prince Albert Carlton and the Minister Responsible for SGI.