Growth plan will be on agenda during Sask. Party retreat

By Joe Couture, The StarPhoenix August 13, 2013 - Premier Brad Wall says Sask. Party government MLAs will discuss progress on their growth plan during their annual summer retreat this week at Prince Albert National Park. "We'll be updating the growth plan," Wall said Monday, noting there have been developments in the province's resources sector since his government released its growth plan last fall; for example, potash stocks recently plummeted in response to changes in the global market.

"We can't take anything for granted. We can't get complacent and so we're going to be very disciplined in keeping to the growth plan we've set out and so we'll be focused on that at the retreat," the premier continued.

Sask. Party MLAs and senior staff members will "check progress against the objectives we've set," Wall said and will "provide the same sort of an update to the public in the fall."

"We're on track in a lot of categories - ahead in some, a little bit behind in others," Wall said of progress on the plan for growth, which sets goals for the province in various areas including population, economy and infrastructure.

"And so we want to be able to outline that in a public way, so there's accountability built in, and I think that helps us stay focused on the specific objectives and the overall importance of the economy," Wall added.

What is "not going to change" for the government is using economic success to focus on goals including addressing disability issues, reducing surgical wait times and building schools, he said.

"Economy-focused parties and governments sometimes forget to finish the sentence," he added. "The end of the sentence is what you do with the dividends of growth, not the growth itself," the premier remarked. The premier also noted that, "If people find that there's not a lot of new things in the fall, that's a good thing, because it means the plan's working and we're going to stick to it."

Wall says the annual caucus retreats typically include discussions about the "bigger provincial issues" as well as opportunities for MLAs to "voice any concerns they have about what's going on in constituencies and provide their feedback" as the government readies the agenda for the next legislative session, which will begin this fall.

"I think infrastructure's pretty key," Wall said of one issue he expects to be top of mind, noting weather has caused "havoc" on some roads. "We're going to hear from MLAs on highways. I expect to hear a lot about that, especially form rural members."

Wall says that past annual summer meetings of the Sask. Party caucus have resulted in some "great ideas." "These elected members have good ideas," he said. "They've spent the summer listening to people and travelling around ... and they come to these things with ideas that make their way often into the fall agenda, the short-term plans for the government, but also long term."

Wall also expects one report from MLA Jennifer Campeau on her work around anti-bullying and another from MLA Darryl Hickie on his efforts around traffic safety, he noted.

"None of us want to have meetings for the sake of meeting. That's not the optimal use of our time or taxpayer resources. That's why we have one of these a year and then we meet regularly when we're in session (in Regina)," the premier continued.

"But getting away from things and having a chance to blue sky or hear from MLAs in a more detailed way, I think is very helpful," he continued.

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