Our Economy has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years, and with our provincial economy and finances back on track, the 2022/23 Provincial Budget will allow the Government of Saskatchewan to expand investments in health care. This budget represents the largest health investment in the history of the province, totaling $6.4 billion.
Our government is determined to make significant improvements to the health care system, despite the recommendations that we have received from the NDP. This month marks the anniversary of the former NDP government closing 52 health care facilities across the province. Recently, members of the Official Opposition called for us to follow experts who recommend consolidating health care in rural areas even further. We will not accept those suggestions. We will work with our front-line staff and communities to ensure families have the services they need.
Rural and remote areas will benefit from a nearly $11 million increase to support emergency medical services with more than 70 new paramedics, more ambulances and more training. This funding will also support additional training and resourcing for community paramedicine in rural and northern communities.
Top of mind for many of us right now is getting back to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic. The last two years saw surgical wait times increase with several procedures put on hold. This budget will see a $21.6 million increase specifically dedicated to reducing the surgical waitlist. Our goal is to perform an additional 7,000 surgeries this year, compared to normal, and eliminate the COVID-19 backlog by spring 2025. By prioritizing surgical plans and setting aggressive, achievable targets, Saskatchewan will deliver the largest volume of surgical procedures in the history of the province starting this year.
Saskatchewan’s economy is growing well past pre-pandemic levels. Our finances are strong, our fiscal plan is on track, and our commitment to health care is unwavering. This budget not only creates better facilities for staff and patients, but it lays the foundation to expand the health care system even further by attracting professionals to our great province.
Jeremy Harrison, MLA