Report from the Legislature – February 25, 2015

Diversified Economy Driving Growth, Keeping Saskatchewan Strong
The Conference Board of Canada is predicting that Saskatchewan’s economy will continue to grow this year, despite a significant shortfall in revenue brought on by the global price of oil.  This is because our economy is increasingly diversified.  In its latest economic forecast, the Conference Board confirms this, pointing to expected increases in potash and uranium production as well as growth in agriculture, manufacturing and construction sectors.

Increasingly, we see a de-linking between the fiscal state of the province and the economy. While there may be challenging times in one sector, we see growth and a number of positive indicators in others.  As we deal with uncertainty, our government’s priorities won’t change.  We remain committed to reducing debt, providing tax relief and investing in important infrastructure.

Since 2007 we have put $3 billion toward debt repayment, reducing interest costs and saving close to $1 billion.  We have reduced taxes, providing people with $5 billion in tax relief.  We have invested $6.6 billion in capital projects, including 40 new schools, 15 long-term care facilities and a new Children’s Hospital.  We have repaired and rebuilt 8,500km of highways – with more to do – and we have also added 2,600 more front line health-care workers.

As we work to finalize this year’s budget, we will maintain our focus on controlling spending and keeping taxes as low as possible. We will continue to invest in infrastructure, innovation and skills training. We will continue to tell the Saskatchewan story around the world.  Most importantly, we will not give up ground in the area of fiscal responsibility.

Saskatchewan “Most Attractive” for Mining Investment
A new survey by an independent think-tank identifies Saskatchewan as one of the most attractive places for mining investment – the best in Canada and behind only Finland in a worldwide ranking.  This is extremely positive news.  This survey actually shows the strength of our diverse economy, that despite a drop in the global price for oil, other sectors of the economy remain resilient.  This is a testament to the hard work of Saskatchewan people.

The survey by The Fraser Institute compares a number of criteria across 122 jurisdictions.  It was conducted between August 26 and November 15, 2014 with input from 485 mining and exploration executives from around the world.  Kenneth Green, the survey’s senior director says that our province offers a competitive taxation regime, good scientific support, efficient permitting procedures and clarity around land claims – and that’s what miners look for.  The Fraser Institute’s survey results can be viewed online at

Since 2007, Saskatchewan’s economy has added over 65,000 new jobs in a number of sectors, including almost 7,000 new workers in the resource sector alone.  This is further evidence that our economy is strong and diversified and that the new Saskatchewan is working.

Saskatchewan Wins Final Oilseed Appeal With Quebec
Mark it down as “case closed” in Saskatchewan’s favour, as the province has now won all aspects of its oilseed internal trade challenge with Quebec.  An appeal panel, established under the pan-Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade, has released a final ruling upholding the Saskatchewan government’s successful challenge last spring of the Quebec government’s restrictions against the production, sale and marketing of vegetable oil-based dairy products in its market.

The Quebec government had appealed the original ruling, but in December had made changes to its Food Products Act removing barriers to the production and sale of vegetable-based oil products, thus allowing Saskatchewan producers and processors to now freely sell their products in Quebec.  The appeal panel’s final ruling not only confirms that those changes by Quebec were necessary, but also upholds Saskatchewan’s challenge of Quebec labelling laws that prohibit the use of terms like “milk”, “butter” and “cheese” for dairy substitute products.

We’re very pleased to see the conclusion of our efforts to win market access for Saskatchewan companies in Quebec.  This is a victory for the internal trade process in Canada and, with this latest ruling, we’re confident Quebec will do the right thing and bring its labelling and marketing rules for dairy substitutes in line with the rest of Canada.