Saskatchewan recognizes the second annual National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 7. The day is set aside each year to raise awareness about wildfire safety and to encourage people to take steps to protect their homes, neighbourhoods and communities.
“This day takes on a special significance this year, given the dramatic events in Alberta this week, and our own unprecedented wildfire season last year,” Environment Minister Herb Cox said. “Our thoughts are with the people of Fort McMurray, and with those still dealing with impacts from last year’s wildfires.”
“Following last summer’s wildfires in northern Saskatchewan, we have seen how important it is to be prepared for an emergency,” Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter added. “As we wind down Emergency Preparedness Week, it’s a good reminder to all Saskatchewan families and communities to prepare their emergency plans. Even packing a basic emergency kit with water, non-perishable foods, a flashlight, batteries, a radio, a first-aid kit, prescription medications, and copies of identification can make a difference.”
The Government of Saskatchewan helps communities prepare for and reduce their risk from wildfire. Last winter and spring, the Ministry of Environment worked with Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the Prince Albert Grand Council to complete 15 fuel management projects in 11 different First Nations communities, thinning volatile forests and removing deadfall to reduce potential fuel. The ministry also completed another six projects, thinning approximately 40 hectares of forest near northern communities.
National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day highlights the important role that communities can play in reducing their own risk from wildfire. The observance was initiated in Canada by Partners in Protection Canada, with support from provincial and territorial wildfire agencies.
Construction of a new regional long term care facility located in Swift Current known as “The Meadows” is complete, on-time and on-budget. Premier Brad Wall was on hand as builders officially handed keys over to the Cypress Health Region, who own and will operate the facility.
“Long-term care residents in Swift Current and area present and future now have an outstanding new facility to call home,” Wall said. “The Meadows together with the excellent team of professionals that will work here will ensure we are offering the best long term care possible.”
Using a public-private-partnership, or P3 model saved $16 million compared to what the project would have cost using traditional procurement models. The Meadows will provide 225 long-term care beds in a single community for seniors, compared to the 198 beds provided previously by three facilities, and employ an additional 79 full-time equivalents. The Meadows was designed with the involvement of staff, patients and families.
To all the volunteers, organizer and constituents I want to give you a heartfelt thank you for all of your hard work over the campaign month. I am so very honoured and proud to be representing the people of Saskatoon Northwest once again.
Premier Brad Wall announced that the first session of the newly-elected Legislative Assembly will begin on Tuesday, May 17 with the election of the Speaker in the morning followed by the Throne Speech that afternoon.
Wall said the government will focus on its election commitment to keep Saskatchewan strong.
“Earlier this month, Saskatchewan people gave our government a renewed mandate to keep Saskatchewan strong during this challenging time caused by low oil prices,” Wall said. “In the upcoming session, we will focus on doing just that in three key areas: keeping our economy strong, keeping our provincial finances strong and keeping Saskatchewan’s place in Canada strong by always standing up for Saskatchewan’s interests.”
Wall said the government is currently working to prepare its legislative agenda and the provincial budget, which will be based on its platform in the recent provincial election.
The Government of Canada and the Province of Saskatchewan, along with the City of Saskatoon and the Saskatoon Housing Coalition, announced a new rental housing project in Saskatoon. The project consists of 20 studio-style units for at-risk individuals who are unable to find or maintain secure housing without support services.
Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on behalf of Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), along with Central Services Minister Jennifer Campeau on behalf of Social Services Minister and Minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation Donna Harpauer, and City of Saskatoon Mayor Donald Atchison made the announcement.
The federal and provincial governments, through CMHC and Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC), are jointly contributing $1.9 million through the Canada-Saskatchewan Investment in Affordable Housing (2014-2019) Agreement.
In October 2012, the Government of Saskatchewan released the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth: Vision 2020 and Beyond, which sets out the government’s vision for a province of 1.2 million people by 2020. The plan identifies principles, goals and actions to ensure Saskatchewan is capturing the opportunities and meeting the challenges of a growing province. Since 2007, the Government of Saskatchewan has invested almost $700 million to develop and repair more than 14,600 homes around the province.
In addition, the City of Saskatoon is providing $277,000 to support the project.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has been Canada’s authority on housing for close to 70 years. To find out more about how the Government of Canada and CMHC help Canadians meet their housing needs, visit www.cmhc.ca or call 1-800-668-2642.
Summer is park season in Saskatchewan and avid campers will be able to book their provincial park campsites beginning Monday, April 11. The campsite reservation launch, which typically happens in March, has been moved to April for 2016 to avoid overlap with the upcoming provincial election.
As in 2015, the launch will be staggered over a 10 day period, with different parks becoming available for reservations on different days. A queuing system will also be in place again this year to manage the high volume of traffic on the reservation website. The 10 day launch and queuing system was very effective last year at managing demand and ensuring the stability of the reservation system. Check here for the schedule dates.
The Government of Saskatchewan has proclaimed January 27, Family Literacy Day. Family Literacy Day is celebrated across Canada to encourage families to strengthen their literacy skills together.
In 2015-16, the Ministry of Education allocated $2.4 million for literacy initiatives including the Family Literacy Initiative Program (FLIP). FLIP is a provincial network of community organizations that work with schools, libraries and other community partners to provide family literacy programs and services to Saskatchewan families.
Family literacy funding also supported the development of For the Success at School, a booklet that gives parents information and ideas about how to help their child build literacy skills to be successful in school. The booklet is the third in a series that includes For the Joy of Learning and For the Love of Reading. All three booklets are complimentary and are available electronically at www.saskliteracy.ca or in print by contacting the Saskatchewan Literacy Network (SLN).
In December 2015, Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate was 5.5 per cent (seasonally adjusted), the lowest rate among provinces and well below the national average of 7.1 per cent.
Saskatchewan has maintained the lowest unemployment rate in Canada for 26 of the last 27 months.
“Despite the economic challenges caused by low oil prices, Saskatchewan had the lowest average unemployment rate in the country in 2015,” Immigration, Jobs, Skills and Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “Having the lowest unemployment rate in the country and the creation of full-time jobs is proof that our economy remains resilient.”
December 2015 highlights include:
There were 570,900 people employed. Full-time employment increased by 1,500 and part-time decreased by 2,500.
Regina’s employment was up 1,700 (+1.2 per cent), and Saskatoon’s employment was up 300 (0.2 per cent) compared to December 2014.
Major year-over-year gains were reported for health care and social assistance up 4,300; information, culture and recreation up 3,500; trade up 1,800.
2015 year-end highlights include:
Record number of people employed in 2015 (573,700).
Lowest annual unemployment rate in Canada at 5.0 per cent (seasonally adjusted) in 2015, compared to 6.9 per cent nationally.
Visitation to provincial parks set a new record in 2015 with nearly 3.9 million visits, while the Government of Saskatchewan fulfilled its commitment of investing an additional $10 million over four years into the provincial park system. Preparations are under way for another busy year in 2016.
Park user fees cover approximately 60 per cent of operating costs, a balance that has been found sustainable while allowing significant recreation opportunities to park users in the province. There have been minor increases to nightly camping, seasonal camping, group camping and vehicle entry permits. Price adjustments are as follows: $1 for nightly camping; $1-$5 for entry permits; $4-$8 for group camping; and $30-$75 for seasonal camping. Fees for swimming lessons and organized youth group camping trips will remain the same as 2015.
Saskatchewan does not have an additional charge for firewood for campfires, unlike other jurisdictions. The nightly camping fee remains similar to Manitoba and lower than Alberta and British Columbia.
The 2016 nightly camping reservation launch will occur in April of this year. As in past years, the launch will be staggered over a 10 day period with a queuing system in place during peak hours. More information, including a schedule for when each park will open for reservations, will be announced later this month.
Applications for seasonal camping are now available online at www.saskparks.net. This very popular program is available at 20 provincial parks and offers the opportunity to secure a campsite from May to September at most locations. The deadline for applications is Thursday, January 28, 2016. Seasonal campsites are allocated by a lottery system and will be awarded on Monday, February 1, 2016.