ALBERTA

Liquor, Labour Legislation Looms As Politicians Return To Saskatchewan Legislature

10/24/2012 06:51 EDT | Updated 12/24/2012 05:12 EST
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REGINA - Labour, liquor stores and legislation will be on the agenda when the new session of the Saskatchewan legislature starts Thursday.

The session begins with a speech from the throne that outlines the government's plan for the upcoming year.

Premier Brad Wall said Wednesday there will be few surprises in the throne speech. He said it will basically be the growth plan — a 64-page document entitled "Saskatchewan Plan for Growth: Vision 2020 and Beyond" — that was released last week.

Wall said about 40 pieces of legislation are also expected to be introduced in the session.

"There'll be some significant debate, I'm sure, around the labour legislative environmental changes that might be coming. I can tell you that even today the final decisions have not been taken on that," he said.

The province is overhauling 15 separate pieces of legislation into one labour law.

Wall said plans will also move forward for SaskBuilds, a new organization to help build roads, bridges and other infrastructure. The SaskBuilds Fund will drive infrastructure planning and financing, including public-private partnerships known as P3s.

"Yes, the Sask. Party government will create a Crown corporation. It'll be about long-term planning for infrastructure."

But the end could be near for another Crown.

There is draft legislation for the possible privatization of Information Services Corp. The corporation handles registries for property and vital statistics in Saskatchewan.

"It still doesn't mean the final decision has been made, but we need to be ready in the event that we decide to take this decision," said Wall. "There's a real opportunity for ISC to become a national champion, headquartered here, and expanding and growing in ways that might not be available to it if it stays a Crown corporation."

The premier also hinted that all new liquor stores in the province could be privatized. He said there might be a debate in the fall sitting of the legislature on whether new liquor stores need to be government-owned.

Opposition NDP Leader John Nilson said the Saskatchewan Party has to do better than they did last week with their booklet.

"That had many goals in it, but it didn't have many actions," said Nilson.

"In Saskatchewan, people are expecting a plan that actually has substance to it, which will address the issues that are here in Saskatchewan.

"One of the difficulties with the Sask. Party document is that it appeared to effectively go back to the 2003 ideology where many of the issues in the province can be solved by privatization at all costs."

Nilson said the NDP is bracing for surprises.

He noted that the Saskatchewan Party decided in the last session to add three more constituencies — and therefore three more politicians — to the legislature. Nilson said that was never mentioned in the election that took place just before the session started.

"We are hoping that there aren't surprises in this throne speech, but we have concerns about how this government operates because they don't appear to like to consult with people before they spring things on the public," he said.

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