REGINA - With the Speech from the Throne now officially introduced and approved, our government will continue on the path to building a stronger, safer, healthier, better educated and more independent Saskatchewan.
This plan was started in the spring with the 2021-22 budget when we committed to hiring more staff to support long-term care residents across the province. A three-year plan was announced to hire 300 new continuing care assistants (CCA) and with an initial $6 million investment, 95 CCA full-time equivalent positions have already been filled.
These positions will support residents in 43 long-term care facilities across the province and 22 smaller communities will benefit from more staff providing home care visits.
Education has been a large component of our government’s plans for the future and there are several programs and funding initiatives underway that will improve access to education as well as early childhood care.
A $4.8 million partnership with Collège Mathieu, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies will develop and deliver an accelerated early childhood education training program. The investment will help increase the number of certified early childhood educators (ECEs) in the province as well as increase the certification of current ECEs.
Qualified ECEs will also benefit from $9.6 million in funding to increase wages for the childcare workforce to support the recruitment and retention of educators. Saskatchewan has partnered with the Government of Canada to invest $1.1 billion to bring fees for regulated child care down to $10 per day on average within the next five years.
Many school projects are underway to provide students and educators with state-of-the-art facilities, like the new $47 million, 11,050 square metre joint-use school that is under construction on the south side of Regina.
Moving on the promise to make Saskatchewan safer, both the La Ronge and Meadow Lake Crime Reduction Teams (CRTs) will be expanded. CRTs have been extremely effective in disrupting, dismantling and prosecuting organized crime and we are proud to support the RCMP’s expansion of this program.
Teams are deployed to communities anywhere in the province that are experiencing dramatic surges in criminal activity. Intelligence is then collected and analyzed before targeted enforcement is carried out. High visibility patrols, tracking dangerous offenders or gangs along with executing arrest warrants are just some of the actions that can be taken.
Our government is providing $1.5 million to get the expansion underway this year with approximately $3.2 million in each subsequent fiscal year. This investment brings the total number of CRT units in the province from seven to nine by adding a total of 20 permanent positions, including 16 RCMP officers, two criminal analysts and two administrative assistants.
As ranchers plan for the future following a very difficult summer, applications for a second support payment are now being accepted under the 2021 Canada-Saskatchewan Drought Response Initiative. The initiative provides immediate relief to livestock producers with two payments totalling up to $200 per head for eligible female breeding cattle and bison, with adjustments made on animal unit equivalents for other livestock.
Producers yet to apply are still eligible for payment 1 but must apply for the first stage before applying for the second. Payment 1 is to address the negative impact of drought conditions on grazing livestock this past summer. Payment 2 is based on your intended inventory for the winter and the extraordinary expenses for winter feeding this year. The deadline for all payment applications is Jan. 31, 2022.
So far, over 8,600 applications have been accepted for 1.24 million animals totalling approximately $109.6 million under Payment 1.
The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to continue a program that honours those who have served our great country. Introduced in 2019, the Saskatchewan Veterans Service Club Support Program provides grants for repairs and upgrades, special events, programs and activities to engage the community. Once again, the program will be accepting applications for funding totalling $1.5 million.
In 2021, 77 grants have already been provided and the third intake has now been initiated on a rolling, first come first served basis.
We are also supporting the continued memory of our veterans with the Scholarship of Honour. The annual award is presented to returning Canadian Armed Forces members, as well as spouses and children of injured or fallen members.
This year 14 recipients will receive a one-time award of $5,000, dedicated to our courageous service members.