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Economy touted as priority in throne speech with tax incentive for exporters
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, October 22, 2014 2:17PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, October 23, 2014 10:16AM CST
The Saskatchewan government is planning to introduce a tax incentive to double exports by 2020 and boost job creation in the manufacturing and corporate sectors.
The promise was made in Wednesday's throne speech, which was delivered under tight security at the provincial legislature, after a soldier was shot and killed near Parliament Hill in Ottawa earlier in the day.
The ceremony before the speech was moved inside due to concern for military personnel and international diplomats who attended the event. Police officers swept the building beforehand for any security threats.
The throne speech, read by Lt.-Gov. Vaughn Solomon Schofield, outlined in broad terms the Saskatchewan Party government's plan for the next legislature session.
There were no specifics on what the tax incentive will involve.
In September, the premier heralded a report released by the Saskatchewan-Asia Advisory Council, which made 45 suggestions that included more Asian language studies in schools and increased recruitment of international post-secondary students from that continent.
The throne speech highlighted that.
"To further support our exporters, my government will maintain its emphasis on international engagement, particularly in Asia, the fastest-growing region in the world," Schofield said. "Our efforts to strengthen trade ties in Asia will be guided by these recommendations."
The speech championed the importance of free trade, more efficient agricultural transportation and SaskTel's expansion of high-speed Internet to rural communities.
It also promised improved access to adult education and a strategy for fighting mental health and addiction issues.
"In the coming months, the commissioner appointed to lead a review of mental-health services in the province will release a 10-year mental health and addictions action plan," Schofield said. "The plan will inform our efforts to improve services and supports for patients and their families."
The government also said it will work to decrease wait times for surgery and to amend legislation to "modernize" Saskatchewan's organ donation and transplant programs.
In education, the government said it plans to continue building new schools to deal with population growth.
The speech also reaffirmed the government's commitment to move away from building publicly owned liquor stores.
"My government will not spend one more taxpayers' dollar building liquor stores," Schofield said. "Instead, those capital dollars will be used for highways, hospitals, schools and bridges.
"New liquor stores in the province will be built and operated by the private sector."
NDP Leader Cam Broten said the government's agenda is "disappointing for families," failing to address the rising cost of living that makes it "very hard to get ahead."
"I wanted to see a commitment to improve the backlogged, filthy and short-staffed hospitals. I wanted to see action on the cost of living. I wanted to see a plan to fix the seniors-care crisis," Broten said in a statement.
In anticipation of the throne speech, the NDP released a list of 25 issues that Broten said should be on the government's to-do list for the next year. It included a comprehensive anti-flooding strategy, reducing the province's reliance on temporary foreign workers and addressing inequities in the education of aboriginal children.
Broten said while the Opposition welcomed a poverty reduction strategy announced in the speech, other demands went unmet.
"It's only focused on trying to keep our GDP statistics positive," he said.