The provincial legislature returned to session Thursday with a speech from the throne weighted heavily toward infrastructure development and continued growth.
“In this session, our priorities will be investing in infrastructure, addressing the skilled labour shortage and ensuring Saskatchewan remains competitive,” said Premier Brad Wall in a release.
The marquee item for beleaguered Moose Javians dealing with heavy construction on roadways is likely the creation of a new organization, SaskBuilds, to help oversee the development of infrastructure across the province.
The creation of the organization will be accompanied by an immediate investment of $150 million, with an additional $2.5 billion earmarked for infrastructure development over the next three years.
“Part of what we did this summer is go across the province and talk to constituents,” said Moose Jaw Wakamow MLA Greg Lawrence, noting that “infrastructure was very important.”
Moose Jaw North MLA Warren Michelson could not be reached for comment.
The move to establish SaskBuilds was not without its critics.
In a release, interim NDP leader John Nilson called SaskBuilds a “rehash (of) the failed P3 Secretariat ... to increase privatization and push infrastructure funding onto future generations.”
In the speech, the government also committed to lower the business tax rate from 12 to 10 per cent by 2015.
“I think (the lower tax rate) is going to be a great incentive for businesses to move to Saskatchewan, and hopefully some of that business will come (here),” Lawrence said. “We’re going to work with the city to promote Moose Jaw.”
The speech also promised “over $264 million in revenue sharing” to municipalities across the province. Lawrence said more than $6.3 million was earmarked for Moose Jaw specifically.
Other commitments included in the speech were tripled fines for people caught speeding through construction zones, increased efforts to attract new medical workers and keep existing medical staff in the province, and the creation of a new education savings grant that promises up to $250 per child, per year to families saving for their childrens’s post-secondary education.
“This throne speech is about planning for growth because growth has been good for our province,” Wall stated in a release.
But in the NDP's press release, Nilson accused the speech of having “gaping holes."
“With little new material and almost no details, the Saskatchewan Party appears to be determined to govern with surprises,” he said. "Those surprises are not what Saskatchewan people voted for.”