With the resumption of the Saskatchewan Legislature last Monday, it has been a busy couple of weeks for MLAs, including Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan, who is also the Minister of Education. The spring session, which will include the budget next Wednesday, has already seen quite a bit happening, starting with the first day back with the announcement by Lyle Stewart that he would be stepping down as the MLA for Lumsden-Morse due to health concerns.
“I think that’s certainly a loss for the team,” said Duncan. “Lyle’s been a longstanding member. I think he is regarded as one of the best Ag Ministers this province has ever seen. I think he is somebody that brought a lot to the government, and to the (Saskatchewan) party.”
This week saw the provincial government pass the Saskatchewan First Act. It is touted as being a way for the province to defend economic autonomy from overreach by the federal government by re-affirming provincial jurisdiction over resources, which is currently included in the Canadian Constitution. There has been some controversy surrounding the act, however, in particular with relation to First Nations.
“Nothing in it moves away from treaty obligations for the province,” Duncan stated. “In fact, a member of the government, Jim Lemaigre, the MLA for Athabasca, just to further cement that, moved a motion as part of the committee work that states clearly that nothing in the Saskatchewan First Act moves us away from treaty obligation.”
The act also includes language to establish an economic tribunal to study potential economic harms from federal legislation. Duncan points to some of the policies from the federal government that have been implemented, such as the carbon tax or electricity regulations, as ones that are detrimental to Saskatchewan and the economy.
The provincial budget is also scheduled to come out Wednesday.
Duncan wasn’t able to say anything specific that will be included for the Weyburn area when it comes out, but he did point out that there is some work happening at the site of the new hospital in Weyburn.
“They wouldn’t be starting that work unless there were some indications that we would start to see some funds flowing for construction,” Duncan hinted. “So, I’m looking forward to being able to communicate more about what that looks like next week after the budget comes out.”
In terms of his cabinet portfolio, Duncan is excited about the rollout of the new online school options in the province.
“We’re in the midst of establishing a provincial online school,” Duncan added. He noted that this will be available for students across the province, regardless of where they are, to have access to more classes. They are hoping to have things set up for the registration of students this fall.