Health Minister Jim Reiter and Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit announced the head office for the new provincial health authority will be located in Saskatoon.
The first day of operations for the health authority is being determined, but is still anticipated to occur in fall 2017.
“A number of locations for the head office were considered, and all would have been a good fit for the new health authority and the people of Saskatchewan,” Reiter said. “Saskatoon will be the location of the head office because it is more centrally located in the province, is close to the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, and will be in close proximity to the new Children’s Hospital.”
While the head office space will be located in Saskatoon, jobs will continue to be located throughout Saskatchewan. A distributed executive leadership model will be established with senior management in Regina, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw, and other major communities across the province.
The ministers also announced that the name of the new provincial organization will be ‘Saskatchewan Health Authority’.
“The new Saskatchewan Health Authority must have a strong connection to people and local communities,” Ottenbreit said. “Management and support services will continue to be located across the province to support the delivery of high quality and consistent frontline health care services for Saskatchewan people, wherever they live.”
Work has already begun to build the Information Technology infrastructure to support the work of approximately 43,000 employees, including a website and network and email accounts. The transition of the existing 12 regional health authorities to a single provincial health authority will increase efficiencies and reduce duplication in the health system.
The potential savings associated with amalgamation are currently estimated in the range of $10-20 million by 2018-19.
“Saskatchewan’s future has never been brighter as shown in today’s release of census data indicating that we have one of the youngest populations in Canada,” Economy Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “Having one of the youngest populations in Canada shows that Saskatchewan continues to be a great place to live, work, do business and to raise a family, attracting tens of thousands of new residents from across Canada and around the world over the past decade.”
Saskatchewan has more children 14 years of age and younger than seniors 65 years of age and older, compared to Canada where the opposite is true – more seniors than young people.
Saskatchewan has the highest proportion of young people, aged 14 and below, among provinces and also had the highest growth in that age group between 2011 and 2016, growing from 19.1 per cent to 19.6 per cent.
The Government of Saskatchewan announced that it will be restoring funding for Saskatchewan libraries back to the 2016-17 funding levels to ensure that regional and municipal libraries and the interlibrary loan services remain operational. Today’s announcement will provide $4.8 million in addition to the $3.5 million that was announced on budget day, March 22.
“Premier Wall has always said that we would be the kind of government that would admit its mistakes and then fix those mistakes,” Education Minister Don Morgan said. “There were many necessary, difficult decisions taken in this budget, however the reductions in library funding without giving libraries the tools to meet the new challenge was a mistake. So today I am announcing restoration of library funding as well as a consultative review with the Saskatchewan libraries and municipalities to determine the way forward in terms of what is best for library users and communities as well as what is also financially responsible.”
The province’s 2017-18 Budget controls spending, modernizes and expands the tax base, and invests in priority government programs, services and infrastructure projects for the benefit of all Saskatchewan people. It also outlines a plan to return to balanced budgets in three years.
“Our challenge is clear,” Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said. “Resource revenue has declined by more than $1.0 billion and has stayed low for three years, depleting reserves and the rainy day fund.
“We need to move away from our level of reliance on resource revenues while at the same time ensuring important government programs and services are affordable and sustainable in the long run, and that our economy remains strong. The 2017-18 Budget will meet that challenge.”
“Every Saskatchewan taxpayer at every income level will see a decrease in their income taxes, and those whose income is too low to pay income tax will see an increase in the Saskatchewan Low-Income Tax Credit they receive,” Doherty said.
Tax expansion and measures include:
PST will now be applied to children’s clothing, restaurant meals and snack foods, insurance premiums, construction services and permanently mounted equipment used in the resource sector;
Education Property Tax is increasing to provide 40 per cent of funding to K-12 education;
the exemption for bulk purchases of gasoline is being eliminated;
The exemption for bulk purchases of diesel fuel is being reduced to 80 per cent of purchases to reflect the changing nature of farming and primary production operations and on-road and personal use of this fuel;
The exemption for used cars will continue, but the value of a trade-in will no longer be deductible in determining the PST on the purchase of a new vehicle;
Tobacco taxes are increasing, as are alcohol markups;
Personal income tax credits for education and tuition expenses and the Employee Tool Tax Credit are being eliminated;
The indexation of Personal Income Tax is being suspended;
The Labour-Sponsored Venture Capital Tax Credit rate is being reduced; andThe Corporation Capital Tax on large financial institutions is being increased and the provincial income tax preference for credit unions is being phased out.
Work is underway to consolidate the 12 existing Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) to a single Provincial Health Authority, anticipated to occur in fall 2017.
“As work begins on the transition, our goal is to ensure implementation occurs seamlessly and that the needs of patients are always our top priority,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said. “This is a significant change and there is a lot of work to be done. Our government is taking a thoughtful and planned approach to ensure this is done right.”
A transition team is being assembled that will include Ministry of Health, clinical and health system leaders. The team is tasked with developing a comprehensive plan to implement the new Provincial Health Authority. Along with a new governance and management structure, the team will be considering the consolidation of health system administration and clinical support services, and the potential savings associated with consolidation. The potential savings associated with consolidation are currently estimated in the range of $10-20 million by 2018-19.
Examples of potential savings include:
Moving from 12 Boards to a single Board will save approximately $700,000 a year in Board governance costs.
Approximately $160 million per year is spent on information technology across the health system (RHAs, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, eHealth Saskatchewan and 3sHealth). Consolidation of information technology for RHAs provides the opportunity to save approximately $9 million per year.
Health officials are reminding residents it’s not too late to get a flu shot as influenza activity picks up across Canada and Saskatchewan.
The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone six months and older, and is especially important for people who are most at risk of serious illness from influenza: seniors, children, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.
The publicly-funded (free) flu vaccine is available from many pharmacies across the province, some physician offices, and public health clinics. Pharmacists can only immunize adults and children nine years of age and older who have a valid Saskatchewan health card. Children under nine need to be vaccinated at a public health clinic or physician office.
On this day, when we honour those who have fought for our country and our freedom, it’s hard to find the words to express just what they have given each and every one of us.
So instead, we’ve turned to those who came before us — some speaking to heal a nation, others trying to make sense of the impossible events that had just occurred.
Remembrance Day isn’t just about war and those we’ve lost, but about ideals and what we stand for. It’s about respecting our past and looking hopefully forward, and more than anything, thanking those who have served.
Deputy Premier and Education Minister Don Morgan joined school division officials to tour the joint-use schools in Saskatoon and area. The construction of 12 new elementary schools on six joint-use sites in Saskatoon, Martensville and Warman are on schedule with completion expected for summer 2017.
Saskatoon’s schools will be located in Hampton Village, Evergreen, Rosewood and Stonebridge; the Warman schools will be built in the Traditions neighbourhood; and the Martensville schools in Lake Vista. Six more schools are also being built on three joint-use sites in Regina. Joint Use Mutual Partnership is the consortium of companies that is designing, building, financing and maintaining all 18 schools on nine joint-use sites. Construction began in September 2015.
“It’s great to see how much work has been completed and to get a sense of what the schools will look like when classes officially begin,” Morgan said. “We would like to thank our school division, municipal and construction partners for their tireless efforts during the design and construction phase to ensure that these schools will be completed on-time and on-budget.”
The schools will accommodate more than 11,000 students from Prekindergarten to Grade 8 at full design capacity, which includes more than 5,700 students in Saskatoon, 2,100 students in Martensville and Warman, and 3,300 students in Regina. Each joint-use school will contain a 90-space child care centre as well as community space. Joint-use schools are co-owned by the public and Catholic school divisions.
Since 2007, the province has committed approximately $1.4 billion toward 65 major school capital projects and numerous smaller projects such as portable classrooms and preventative maintenance and renewal.
As children head back to school, health officials are encouraging parents to ensure their children’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Free childhood immunizations are available for all infants and school-age children in Saskatchewan.
“Immunization is the most effective way to protect your children against vaccine-preventable diseases,” Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said. “It’s important to have your children vaccinated on time and on schedule. It provides them with the best protection against highly contagious and potentially serious diseases, such as measles or whooping cough.”
There has been a recent increase in pertussis (whooping cough) cases in Saskatchewan. Publicly-funded routine vaccinations are easily available in Saskatchewan at public health clinics (for pre-school children) and through school-based programs (for school age students).
School-age children may receive the following free routine vaccinations: