Sask. legislative sitting expected to focus on pandemic, election promises

·2 min read

MLAs both new and re-elected will begin a two-week fall sitting Monday, which will likely be focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saskatchewan Party government's election promises.

Monday's sitting begins with the Speaker election at 10 a.m. CST and a speech from the throne delivered by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty at 2 p.m.

The speech will be debated and voted on in the days that follow.

Following the Oct. 26 election, the governing Sask. Party enters the sitting with 48 members, while the NDP has 13.

Pandemic response

With the province experiencing a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the past month, policy announcements by the government will likely be overshadowed by its response to the pandemic.

The NDP opposition has asked for a three-week "circuit breaker" shutdown and a plan to compensate those affected.

Moe said again last week he preferred targeted measures as opposed to anything that shut down portions of the economy.

On Friday, the province's most recent set of restrictions went into effect, which includes suspension of sports, gathering limit restrictions and an expansion of the mask mandate.

Election promises

After announcing his cabinet shuffle on Nov. 9, Premier Scott Moe said his government would use the sitting to introduce legislation, including bills, to keep its campaign promises.

The Sask. Party made $849 million in promises during the October campaign, including:

  • A two-year home renovation tax credit.

  • A one-year 10 per cent SaskPower rebate.

  • A three-year tax reduction for small businesses.

  • Create 750 licensed home-based child care spaces.

  • Provide funding to kids living with autism up to the age of 12.

  • Cover the cost of glucose monitoring up to 18 years old.

  • Reduce seniors' ambulance costs by 50 per cent.

  • Increase the post-secondary Sask. Advantage scholarship to $750/ year.

It also promised to bring back two programs cancelled in 2016, the active families benefit and the community rink grant.

Speaker election

The sitting will begin with the election of the Speaker. Saskatchewan Party MLA Mark Docherty has held the position since March 2018. He has put his name forward again and faces five of his caucus colleagues who are also vying for the position: Lisa Lambert, Hugh Nerlien, Greg Ottenbreit, Randy Weekes, and Nadine Wilson.

The election will be conducted by secret ballot.

Matthew Howard/Trent Peppler CBC
Matthew Howard/Trent Peppler CBC

The Sask. Party has 11 new MLAs, while the NDP has six.

On Nov. 9, Moe shuffled his cabinet, with notable changes including Paul Merriman as Health Minister, Dustin Duncan as Education Minister, Lori Carr as Minister of Social Services and Gord Wyant as Minister of Justice.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer is the deputy premier and Nicole Sarauer is the NDP's deputy leader.

All MLAs will have to wear a mask while inside the legislature. Plastic barriers have been erected between desks inside the chamber.