REGINA — An aggressive legislative program was outlined in the throne speech, read by Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield Oct. 25 to open the second session of 28th Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly. Promises for more support for seniors, invoking the notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and repealing Bill 40, which allowed a portion of a Crown Corporation be sold, are among the legislative actions that are bound to generate debate among the members of the assembly.
This session is unique in several ways: it will be Premier Brad Wall’s last Legislative Assembly as premier of the province; it will likely be the last session for the lieutenant governor, as she is close to five years in the position; and most of the legislation introduced will be dealt with by a new premier and cabinet.
Wall has announced he will step down as premier on Jan. 27, 2018, and a new party leader, who will automatically become the province’s premier, will be elected by party members in January. The new premier will select his own cabinet and it will be that group’s responsibility to deal with the legislative program introduced in the October 2017 assembly.
Children under six years old with the autism spectrum will receive individual funding to deal with that affliction. A program to increase organ donations will also be introduced; Wall said Saskatchewan has the lowest organ donation rate in the country. Legislation will also be required to deal with the legalization of marijuana. The speech complained that the federal government was moving too fast with marijuana legalization and that provincial legislation will have to deal with it.
Health care and education will be strengthened, according to the speech, but there was no indication of how that’s going to work. The province will also make it possible for municipal governments to allow ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to operate in the province, and it appears that Saskatchewan and Alberta are going to get into a beer fight after Alberta introduced a rebate program for its small brewers, which an interprovincial trade panel ruled as discriminatory and contrary to interprovincial trade regulations.
The Privacy Act will be amended to provide greater protection against unauthorized electronic distribution of intimate images.
Throne speeches traditionally reveal bare-bones plans the government intends to follow. Details will come with the provincial budget, which will be released around the end of March, 2018.