The spring session of the Saskatchewan Legislature has come to a close and Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit said it was a productive one for his government.
Ottenbreit said the session was one where the Saskatchewan Party worked toward what it laid out for the province in last fall’s provincial election.
“It was following through on promises made in the Throne Speech in the fall … and in the election …,” he said.
The key document of the session was of course the annual provincial budget, and Ottenbreit said it speaks well for the vibrant economy of the province.
“It’s Canada’s only balanced provincial budget,” he said.
At the same time Ottenbreit said managing a balanced budget did not come easily.
“We had to make some difficult decisions through the process,” he said.
Those difficult decisions included cutting the Film Employment Tax Credit which may impact the Yorkton Film Festival in the future, and announcing the elimination of grants for horse racing, which could see the end of standardbred racing in the city.
In spite of such choices that impact locally, Ottenbreit said the budget was a good one, continuing to focus onareas which people look at as key, including health, education and housing.
The province continues to invest in key infrastructure, said Ottenbreit, noting there was a $788 million expenditure in the budget, including hospitals and schools, although the lion’s share, some $500 million is targeted at highways. That is part of a $2.2 billion investment promise for highways over the next four years, he said.
With the session over, Ottenbreit said he and other MLAs now focus on communicating with their constituents.
“When the session wraps up the Premier tasks us to get an idea where the people of the province wants us to go next,” he said.
Locally Ottenbreit said he knows two priorities already exist, a new hospital and a new Parkland College Trades and Technology Centre.
While there was no money for either in the recent budget, Ottenbreit said both are certainly on the government’s radar.
In the case of the health facility, Ottenbreit said having the conceptual plan approved is a very positive step in the process, adding he is keenly aware “something definitely has to be done in the future,” in regards to the local hospital. He said he is “pretty confident” there will be some positive announcement regarding health care locally in the near future.
In regards to the trades and technology centre, Ottenbreit said the government is “aware of the need,” adding said there is still some details to work out in terms of scale and similar things before it can move to the discussion phase of funding.
But like the hospital Ottenbreit said he expects “to see something coming,” regarding the centre by year’s end, or shortly after.