Report from the Legislature – March 16, 2017

Despite the slowdown in the resource sector has impacted government revenues for nearly three years, Saskatchewan is leading the nation with Canada’s highest rate of job growth.

Of the 15,000 jobs created in all of Canada in February, 8,000 were created in Saskatchewan.  Along with recent reports on retail sales, manufacturing sales and wholesale trade growth, the latest job numbers show the continued strength and resilience of Saskatchewan’s economy.

While our economy is showing signs of growth, some difficult measures will need to be taken in the upcoming budget.  Top of mind will be addressing our resource revenue shortfall, while working to encourage growth and investment to keep Saskatchewan strong in the years ahead.

The benefits of growth and investment in Saskatchewan allow for greater investments in quality of life.  This is something our government has pursued from the very beginning.

In the past 10 years, we have seen lower taxes and strong economic growth, record investments in infrastructure and the public service, a reduction in the operating debt inherited by the previous government, and the largest population growth since the earliest days of our province.

The recruitment and retention of medical professionals, particularly nurses and doctors, is another area where Saskatchewan continues to see success.

Saskatchewan residents continue to benefit from better access to physicians with the addition of more than 750 new doctors over the past 10 years.  This represents a 44% increase in overall physician numbers, and includes a 53% increase in specialists and a 37% increase in general practitioners.

A number of recruitment and retention initiatives have led to the increase, including implementing the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment.  This has resulted in more than 190 doctors providing services including 11 new internationally-trained physicians.

More locally-trained physicians are also staying in the province after graduation, helping to boost the overall physician supply.  Overall, the retention rate of family medicine graduates trained at the University of Saskatchewan has jumped from 58% to 93% over the past four years.

In total, more than 2,500 physicians are licensed to practice in Saskatchewan.

Gone are the days when Saskatchewan’s greatest export was the people and professionals who called the province home.  Saskatchewan products, however, are a different story.

The world could use a little more Saskatchewan and the people of our province are happy to provide it.  Through innovation and determination, Saskatchewan exports have grown by 62% over the last decade.  And Saskatchewan’s agriculture exports have grown by a whopping 186%.

35 U.S. states have Canada as their #1 export market, which is why we need to communicate the importance of free and fair trade.

Canada and the U.S. have forged one of the most successful economic partnerships the world has ever seen.  Millions of families on both sides of the border benefit from trade.  Now, more than ever, we need to actively promote the advantages of trade and point out the dangers of protectionism.

Saskatchewan offered to engage with the U.S. at the national and state level and, at the request of the federal government, Premier Wall visited Iowa this week to promote the critical importance of Canada’s and Saskatchewan’s trade relationship with the United States.

Saskatchewan exporters shipped $355 million (USD) worth of goods to Iowa last year – primarily potash, oats, canola oil and live pigs.  Iowa in turn shipped $366 million (USD) worth of products, primarily agricultural equipment, to Saskatchewan in 2016.

The U.S. is Saskatchewan’s largest export market and that economic relationship is critical to maintaining a strong Saskatchewan economy and contributing to the one in five Saskatchewan jobs that depend on international trade.

Missions like this are important in nurturing relationships with key U.S. decision makers and reinforcing the mutual benefits that derive from trade, investment and co-operation.