A global slowdown in the resource sector has presented Canada with economic challenges; challenges Saskatchewan is well positioned to manage. Despite a downturn, a diversified Saskatchewan economy continues to attract people, investment and job growth. That’s a big difference from a decade ago when a slowdown would have meant less investment, fewer jobs and a declining population.
Saskatchewan’s economy continued to create jobs in 2015. There were 2,800 more people working in Saskatchewan in 2015 compared to 2014. In contrast, Alberta lost nearly 20,000 jobs in 2014. Since the Saskatchewan Party was elected in 2007, Saskatchewan has had the second-best rate of job creation in Canada. From 2000 to 2007 under the NDP, Saskatchewan had the worst job creation record in the country.
There’s an important distinction between the government’s finances and the economy. While the government is experiencing a revenue shortfall due to the impact of the price of oil on Saskatchewan’s economy, our economy and province remains resilient. The last thing our economy needs right now are higher costs on those trying to retain jobs or create new ones. We need to ensure we are retaining any advantages we can offer to those who are trying to keep people employed and create new jobs.
In the past, in response to an economic downturn the government stopped investing. The previous government cut services, closed hospitals and schools, hiked taxes and caused the economy to slow down even further. We won’t do that. Our government continues to invest in needed programs and services, and critical infrastructure projects to keep our province moving forward and our economy strong.
While we are facing short-term challenges, our government remains focused on long-term growth and prosperity for all Saskatchewan people. We know there is more work to be done. The further diversification of our economy remains a priority. We continue to seek new trade opportunities across Canada and around the world to help get our products to market.
In order to meet the revenue challenges, there are a number of choices that governments can make. We can make a choice to keep building and moving forward, or stop investing. Our government is choosing to move forward and keep Saskatchewan strong. As we move toward the upcoming election, we will clearly outline our direction so Saskatchewan people have a clear choice. We will present our plans for the short-term and the long-term growth of Saskatchewan. Our government’s track record of managing the province’s finances is strong.
There is no doubt that today we face some challenges. However, on balance, compared not only to the history of our province but also to the rest of Canada, our economy, and our people remain strong, resilient and focussed on the future. We are not looking backward to the old NDP.