Report from the Legislature March 9, 2017

Mar 9, 2017

Saskatchewan agriculture deserves to be in the spotlight every day. Saskatchewan farmers, ranchers, producers, processors and researchers are the very best at what they do. They feed Canada and through their industry, innovation and risk-taking, they feed the world. Saskatchewan is the country’s largest producer of lentils, chickpeas, durum wheat, and flaxseed. Our province is a leader in research and an export powerhouse.

More than ever, producers need access to relevant and reliable risk management programming. Once again, Saskatchewan producers will have access to the highest coverage in program history.

This year’s Crop Insurance Program provides coverage and options producers need to protect their farm while providing the flexibility to be innovative and make the best decisions to be successful.

Changes to a Crop Insurance contract or new applications need to be made by March 31, 2017.

Agriculture is the foundation of our province and we want to make sure we are providing the right services, in the right locations, using the best delivery options available.

We are asking producers and industry how we can better serve them and how we can ensure our extension activities remain relevant and valuable.

With the industry forever evolving, our extension activities need to be driving sustainable growth and ensuring our producers stay competitive in a global market.

We need the voice of those who access our services currently, as well as those who don’t, to ensure we move our extension activities in the right direction.

Farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses are invited to provide input on how the province currently delivers business information, advice and support. An online survey – open until March 31, 2017 – can be found at Focus group discussions will also help to identify what is working and possible gaps.

As you know, Saskatchewan is facing a budget deficit of over $1 billion. That’s because our resource revenues have dropped by well over a billion dollars and have stayed there for three years now. As you can imagine, three years of rain has depleted the rainy-day fund. As a result, our government will be taking steps to control and reduce spending in the upcoming budget.

The largest single area of government spending is compensation – over $7 billion a year in salaries and benefits for valued public sector employees across all of government. We know that any meaningful effort to reduce government spending must include a reduction of that amount.

We believe it is important to lead by example and that means our government will not ask other public sector workers to do anything that we’re not prepared to do ourselves. That’s why we will start by reducing the salaries of the premier, all ministers, and MLAs by 3.5% effective April 1st.

All of the staff who work in the Premier’s Office and minister’s offices will also be required to take 9 unpaid days off a year, which also amounts to a salary reduction of 3.5%.

We look forward to the various public sector employers working with their respective unions to reach negotiated agreements that work for everyone, including Saskatchewan taxpayers. I am confident that as our government works together with the people of Saskatchewan, we will meet the challenges ahead while continuing to provide important services and keep the province growing.