Brad Wall’s final Throne Speech as Saskatchewan’s Premier was delivered in the Assembly by Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield Wednesday afternoon.
Some of the highlights included in the speech were a coverage increase for SaskTel in rural Saskatchewan, one of the Crown corporations now protected from any type of privatization thanks to the scrap of Bill 40 on Tuesday.
“I think you heard me say during the last campaign during April of 2016, I had heard concerns about internet coverage as much as anything. Often roads are talked about during spring in our province, and they were, but internet and cellular coverage is a key issue, it’s important for the economy, it’s important for public safety and obviously it’s just quality of life,” Wall told reporters on Tuesday.
Uber driving service is also a interest of the Saskatchewan Party.
Wall says it’s a service he has used himself in the the past and something he wouldn’t mind seeing around the province.
“I’ve used Uber before and felt very safe doing so, as safe as any other ride sharing opportunity that is there, but there’s also Lift which is another competitor and I’m not sure if that’s in Europe yet or still part of the mix I don;t know the answer, but I do think we simply just need more options for Saskatchewan,” Wall added.
The ultimate goal is to decrease the high number of fatalities and injuries involved in impaired driving accidents.
More than 600 people have lost their lives in impaired driving related accidents in the last ten years across Saskatchewan.
A new education property tax deferral program will also be announced by the Sask. Party that will allow seniors with a household income of under 70-thousand dollars a year to defer school taxes put on their homes.
The Saskatchewan NDP meanwhile are saying Wednesday’s Throne Speech was more about protecting the Premier’s legacy than Saskatchewan people.
Interim Leader Nicole Sarauer spoke on Wall’s decision to increase the province’s small business income threshold, saying he should be looking at repealing other changes they made such as PST increases.
“If the Premier wants to talk about supporting small businesses he should be looking at repealing the changes that they made with the expansions to PST, because what we’ve heard is that has had some very serious implications for many businesses, especially small businesses in the province,” Sarauer said.
At the start of 2018 the small business income threshold will be increased to 600-thousand dollars, the highest in western Canada.
Sarauer also touched in the education property tax referral program, and said it leaves many seniors simply left out.
“We’ve been advocating for this, and they should’ve done it awhile ago, but it only helps a small portion of seniors in the province, seniors who own a home. At the same time we’re seeing and we saw in this last budget seniors who are living in long-term care facilities for example had their rent skyrocket. We’re also seeing many seniors have to pay more for their medications,” Sarauer said.
For Wall, who remains in office until the end of January, December 6 will be his last day in the Saskatchewan Legislature.
(Files from Ryan McNally)