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Legislative Report (29 March 2006)

Legislative Report

29 March 2006

Saskatchewan Loses Jobs and Population in an Oil Boom
Its happened again: families split apart, grandparents left without grandchildren and parents left looking at empty nests. People are leaving Saskatchewan, and its getting worse not better.

Statistics Canada reported this week that Saskatchewans population is at its lowest level since 1982. In the middle of an oil and gas boom, Saskatchewans population dropped by 2,000 people from October to December 2005. In all of 2005, the population dropped by 3,757.

Every other Western province gained population; Saskatchewan was the only one to lose people. Alberta gained 80,000 people, B.C. added 54,000, and Manitoba brought in 3,400 during 2005.

Whats worse is that 8,218 people left Saskatchewan during 2005. They simply packed up their families and moved.

Picture for a second, the equivalent of most peoples home town disappearing right off the map everyone you ever knew growing up, gone within a year. Shocking isnt it? Thats what is happening in Saskatchewan and it needs to stop. Because when a person leaves, we lose their involvement and commitment to their communities, as well as their tax dollars that help fund the public services we value like education and health care.

And yet, there is growth in our economy. Economists point to Saskatchewans oil and gas boom. According to them, times are good. But that doesnt seem to matter, as Saskatchewans population continues to drop. The economy may be booming, but its a jobless boom. In the last year, Saskatchewan not only lost people, but 4,400 jobs.

How in the world can we be losing people in the middle of an oil and gas boom?

Perhaps, its the tired, old NDP government that is driving people out of the province. Eric Cline, the NDP government minister responsible for answering why Saskatchewans population is dropping, said people shouldnt worry because the NDP has a plan, and if it doesnt work in a year, hell be the first to admit hes disappointed.

Thats all very well and good, but what about now? This is a problem thats been going on for years and must be addressed before its too late.

The Official Opposition Saskatchewan Party sees the situation differently. We hear from parents and grandparents who have to drive for hours to see their kids. We hear from young people who want to stay in the province and raise a family but cant, and we hear from those who have left and want to come back, but can not because there is no opportunity for them. Statistics are not just numbers; they represent real people.

Our plan is simple. Saskatchewans population can grow if we implement a growth agenda based on three main points: investment in infrastructure, reducing barriers to growth and committing to long-term, predictable funding for post-secondary education. If you build it, they will come.

If you have a question about this report, or any other matter, just Contact Glen.

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