Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Labour, Liquor Laws Passed as Saskatchewan Legislature Ends Spring Sitting

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Labour, Liquor Laws Passed as Saskatchewan Legislature Ends Spring Sitting

Article excerpt

Legislature wraps with 53 bills passed


REGINA - The spring sitting of the Saskatchewan legislature has wrapped up after debate on labour laws, private liquor stores, the sale of a Crown corporation and seniors care.

Fifty-three pieces of legislation were passed, including one private member's bill to make reporting of asbestos in public buildings mandatory.

Premier Brad Wall says he thinks the most important part of the sitting was tabling a balanced budget.

"We made some difficult choices to get there," Wall said Thursday.

"We'll continue to make those choices because we think that's essential to the Saskatchewan advantage. And it's what the people voted for in the last election, so from that standpoint, I'm happy with how the session unfolded."

The premier acknowledged that choices made by governments can become baggage over the years.

"I think every single session you're going to get rocks in your backpack because when you make decisions on the budget, you're not going to make everybody happy ... especially when you work hard to make sure it's balanced," he said.

"Maybe, actually, those aren't so-called rocks in the backpack in the long term, especially if people understand why those decisions are being made."

Wall said it was also important to pass new labour legislation that he believes will modernize employment rules.

The new Saskatchewan Employment Act melds 12 pieces of legislation into one omnibus law. It allows for people to work either five eight-hour days a week or four 10-hour days a week, lowers the qualifying period for maternity, parental and adoption leave to 13 weeks from 20 weeks and bans a lower minimum wage for people with disabilities.

The new law also has regulations to adjust the minimum wage to the cost of living.

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour has said the legislation is rife with loose ends, waters down current labour standards and undermines bargaining rights.

Wall believes working on the act, which was introduced as a bill a year ago, was a good exercise in law-making.

"We made a number of friendly amendments to try to respond to those concerns and it took a year. It was a deliberative process and one that was responsive to input we received not just from the Opposition, but from people. …

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