Report from the Legislature March 12, 2020

Mar 12, 2020

The challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are top of mind as the number of cases increases around the world.

Public Health Agency of Canada advises:

  • All travelers returning to Canada should monitor their health. Monitor for fever, cough and difficulty breathing for 14 days after you arrive in Canada. If an employee has these symptoms, they are directed to self-isolate and stay at home and to contact HealthLine 811 for assessment and direction.
  • If you have travelled to a country with a level three travel advisory, limit your contact with others for a total of 14 days starting the day you began your journey to Canada. This means self-isolate and stay at home. Contact HealthLine 811 within 24 hours of arriving in Canada for direction.
  • Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who is ill with COVID-19 should self-isolate for 14 days.

Saskatchewan residents can take a number of steps to protect themselves from respiratory illness:

  • Wash your hands frequently – for at least 20 seconds;
  • Do not touch surfaces and then your mouth, eyes or nose;
  • Use tissues when you cough or sneeze and dispose of them immediately (use your elbow if a tissue is unavailable); and
  • Stay home if you become ill and prevent the spread of illness.

You can keep up to date on COVID-19 at saskatchewan.ca, including questions and answers for the public and care providers, and testing surveillance.

The uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has affected our stock markets. Markets have been hit hard again after the steep drop in oil prices. As you know, lower oil prices are a challenge for our government and for our Saskatchewan economy.

There is always volatility in resources prices. That’s the reason we made the decision three years ago to reduce our dependency on resource revenues in the provincial budget. Our reliance on these revenues once peaked at 32 per cent; today it is 11 per cent. Oil revenues now make up less than 5 per cent of our provincial budget.

Saskatchewan is in a strong financial position and we will not respond to dropping oil prices in a knee-jerk fashion by cutting programs or services. Rather, we think it’s time to invest in programs and services, and that’s what you will see in the budget.

Recently, we announced that the upcoming provincial budget will include funding for a renewed and expanded Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert.

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced more than $300 million for a new multi-storey addition that will include a new acute care tower, replacement of the existing adult mental health space and renovations to the current facility.

This hospital will have:

  • an additional 69 acute care beds – a 40% increase in capacity
  • an expanded emergency department;
  • more space for ambulatory, diagnostic and inpatient services;
  • a new rooftop helipad to accommodate STARS Air Ambulance; and
  • enhanced medical imaging services which will include an MRI.

This significant investment reflects the importance of Victoria Hospital in providing a wider and improved variety of health services, not only to people in Prince Albert, but to patients and clients across central and northern Saskatchewan.