After serving as Premier of Saskatchewan for nearly 10 years, Premier Brad Wall announced that he will be retiring from the position and elected politics when his party elects a new Leader.
Premier Wall had this to say about his retirement, and of the record of the government since first being elected to office in 2007:
This November will mark 10 years since I had the incredible honour of being elected as Premier of this wonderful province that I love. I’ve always thought that the 10 year mark – should I be so fortunate to serve that long – might be the right time to reevaluate.
Together with Tami, I have decided that now is the time for renewal – for my party, for the government, for the province. It’s time for me to retire from politics.
And so I’ve asked the Saskatchewan Party to begin the process of electing a new leader, who will become the next Premier. I’ll continue to serve as Premier until the new leader is chosen.
And until then, there’s still a lot of work to do. And we carry out that work in a Saskatchewan much stronger after a decade of growth.
It’s easy to forget how things were in the province just 10 years ago. Remember the questions we used to ask?
Could our population get over and stay over a million people? Could we put an end to the near certainty that young people would look first to some place outside of Saskatchewan for their future? And why, in a province as blessed with resources and amazing and innovative people as ours, would we have the worst job creation record in all of Canada, as we did just 10 years ago?
Well, we came to office, some said naively, with a vision and a plan for growth, seeking to put an end to these questions, together with you, the people of Saskatchewan.
We set a goal of seeing Saskatchewan grow by 100,000 people in 10 years. Some called that impossible.
Saskatchewan has now grown by 160,000 people during our decade of growth. We are only 40,000 short of 1.2 million people.
Today, there are more than 67,000 more jobs in the province than there were 10 years ago. And instead of the worst job creation record, Saskatchewan has had Canada’s second-best job creation record during our decade of growth.
And we don’t ask those questions anymore.
Growth is the new normal in this province. That is remarkable. The credit goes to you Saskatchewan.
And I think our plan for growth and its specific actions have also helped. Things like new, more aggressive immigration policies, the graduate retention program, our efforts to engage with the world, to tell Saskatchewan’s story, to promote all that we have to offer to a growing world.
Legislative and regulatory improvements to the business climate have helped. Lower income taxes, lower small and large business taxes, lower education property taxes, have all helped create the Saskatchewan advantage, and a decade of growth.
And together, we have invested the dividends of growth to improve the lives of Saskatchewan people.
We have built and repaired a record number of highway kilometres. We have built 40 new and replacement schools and hired 850 more teachers to instruct a growing number of students. We’ve been building long-term care facilities and a new Children’s Hospital, and a new psychiatric hospital.
We have taken the longest surgical wait times in Canada 10 years ago and transformed them into among the shortest in Canada with the help of 750 more doctors, 3,000 more nurses of every designation that have we have hired, and with the help of innovations like private surgical clinics.
And we have remembered those most vulnerable during our decade of growth – doubling supports for people with disabilities, tripling the income assistance program for low-income seniors and removing 114,000 low-income people from the tax rolls completely through our income tax reductions.
We’ve also made mistakes. I have made mistakes. And yes, there is still much to do.
But those fundamental questions about the future viability of the province we all love? After this decade of growth, we don’t ask them anymore.
Saskatchewan is growing and vibrant and strong. And I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to play some small part in all of that.
As for today, our plan to get the budget back to balance and to reduce our dependence on resource revenue is on track. Here again we have a foundation upon which to build. Provincial credit ratings are higher than they were when we were elected 10 years ago, there’s less operating debt and we have the second-lowest debt-to-GDP ratio among all the provinces.
This decade of growth truly is a strong foundation upon which to build.
I believe, though, that to best ensure continued success in that work, Saskatchewan needs renewal, a fresh perspective in leadership.
This was such a difficult decision to make. It is hard to lay this duty down, to retire from what has been and what will always be the honour of my working life.