Sask. throne speech touts plan for 'aggressive' population and job growth
Government wants to increase population by 225K in 10 years
The fall session of the legislature kicked off Wednesday afternoon with Premier Scott Moe touting an "aggressive" plan to grow the population to 1.4 million people over the next decade.
The session officially began with new Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty reading Moe's throne speech.
The speech detailed a few new initiatives and outlined a plan to introduce 30 pieces of legislation.
Moe told reporters Wednesday he will release a new Saskatchewan Plan for Growth this fall that includes a goal to increase the population by 226,000 and create 100,000 more jobs by 2030.
"Growth remains the government's number one priority," Moe said.
"We will put forward very aggressive targets."
Moe said job creation would spur population growth through "increasing the value of exports."
Saskatchewan's population is 1.17 million. In 2012, the Saskatchewan Party government announced a growth plan that aimed for 1.2 million people by 2020.
The government plans to create up to $10 million in funding to help workers in Estevan, Coronach and surrounding areas affected by the federal government's plan to phase-out coal fired electricity by 2030.
Moe said this would focus on "economic development opportunities." He said the money would not be part of a one-time payment this budget year but likely spread out.
Estevan's mayor Roy Ludwig said coal has a part to play in a green energy future thanks to carbon capture and storage, which takes emissions produced by burning fossil fuels and stores them primarily underground.
Ludwig said $10 million is a good start and that Estevan is looking at bringing in manufacturing and cannabis production to create jobs.
"We're not looking at studying. We're looking at getting things on the ground to get employment in place," Ludwig said Wednesday.
The government intends to introduce legislation regulating vaping and vaping products, and bring in tougher penalties for cell phone use while driving.
Moe said the vaping regulations will look like the rules around tobacco and alcohol but did not get into specifics.
On health care, expect to see a plan and money to reduce surgical wait times.
Other new changes include amending the Lobbyists Act to implement recommendations made by the Registrar of Lobbyists and a new Fisheries Act to protect against invasive species.
Moe said the new legislation announced this fall will have the government's "razor-thin surplus" in mind.
NDP Leader says speech not focused 'on next generation'
NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the throne speech focused too much on the Saskatchewan Party's record since 2007.
Meili said the message is missing "what have you done for me lately."
He said the premier is "focused on the next election and not the next generation."
Meili said he agrees with setting goals for increasing the population and creating more jobs but thinks the government may be relying too heavily on a spike in oil prices.
"This is what I'm really worried about. Unless they have a crystal ball no one else has."
Meili said the government is not talking enough about innovation.
He also criticized Moe for failing to "invest in people." Meili said the throne speech does not mention crystal meth or opioids — two drivers of crime and increasing stress on the health care system.
With files from The Canadian Press