You often hear about the disagreements that arise from time to time between different levels of government, but you rarely hear much about what is working well. Having just celebrated Canada Day and the 150th anniversary of Confederation, it’s a good time to take stock of some of the recent success stories between the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan.
Water is always a key Saskatchewan concern. Just a few days after our new government came into office federally in November of 2015, the provincial government asked if they could get legal control over 19 federally-built water dams across the Province. But they were concerned about liability. So we transferred not only the dams, but also $365 million to offset the financial risk and bolster the province’s bottom-line.
We are strengthening the Canada Pension Plan, especially for middle-class Canadians who are the least prepared for a secure retirement – including a large number of Saskatchewanians. During the negotiations, the provincial government was a constructive player in getting a better CPP deal for the whole country.
We’ve also concluded another new agreement with Saskatchewan – on healthcare. We’ll be injecting a further $350 million into the provincial treasury over this coming decade for better mental health and homecare – two areas of real need in Saskatchewan.
In world trade, our federal government has vigorously pursued Saskatchewan’s priorities in global markets – like getting more beef and pork into Asia and Latin America, preserving crucial access for our canola in China, signing a comprehensive trade deal with the European Union and a new free trade agreement with Ukraine.
With respect to the U.S., we got rid of Country-of-Origin labelling. We have Saskatchewan’s support in the battle over softwood lumber. And we’re pushing very hard to maintain a sensible, fully integrated steel and pipe industry across North America – supporting Evraz. Taken together, these efforts are worth billions of dollars to Saskatchewan.
Back here at home, we have increased federal support for affordable housing in Saskatchewan – $54 million more is coming into this province from the Government of Canada for housing over the next two years. And during that same approximate timeframe, there’s another $39 million for Early Learning and Child Care.
We’ve extended the existing contract for training RCAF and NATO pilots at “15-Wing” in Moose Jaw – that’s worth tens of millions of dollars to the local economy.
To help celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, we’re investing more than $12 million in Saskatchewan arts, culture and community infrastructure and celebrations – through more than 200 projects all over this province.
More broadly, since this time last year, on behalf of the Government of Canada, it has been my great pleasure to announce major federal investments to help Saskatchewan grow – totalling close to half-a-BILLION federal dollars – for a vast array of public infrastructure projects (highways, bridges, transit systems, water and wastewater facilities, and much more), plus another $150 million for world-class scientific research and innovation at both our universities.
Our government has introduced new legislation on moving grain by rail to better support farmers, including a more useful definition of what constitutes “adequate and suitable” service, reciprocal penalties, an on-going and improved revenue cap, new tools to promote competition between railways, and greater transparency.
And we have also approved four major pipeline projects in western Canada (two for oil and two for gas), to move western resources into both North American and global markets – at better prices than we’ve been able to get before.
Not counting the revival of the KeystoneXL pipeline into and across the United States (which we have always supported), the OTHER TWO major OIL pipelines that we approved last December (“TransMountain” and “Line-3”) are worth more than $11 Billion and will generate more than 22,000 jobs. The bulk of the contracts for the pipe so far are going to Evraz Steel.
Periodic political tensions aside, the activities of the Government of Canada over the past 18 months have produced some very positive results for the people of Saskatchewan.