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Legislative Report (14 July 2006)

Legislative Report

14 July 2006

Population Loss Disturbing

Wrong turns are inevitable when you’re out driving during summer vacation. The solution is obvious. You look at a map, backtrack, and then resume making progress towards your final destination. The key is admitting you’re lost and starting to do something about it. Figures released recently by Statistics Canada show Saskatchewan’s NDP have been and continue to be on the wrong course. Yet no one in the NDP is ready to admit they’re lost.

According to Statscan, this province lost 1,950 people in the first quarter of this year. And it’s only the latest evidence of a long-standing trend. Saskatchewan’s population has been falling steadily since Lorne Calvert took office—from 1,003,688 in January of 2001 to 988, 980 in April of this year. This is the first time the province’s population dropped below 990,000 since July of 1982.

Why should anyone care if Saskatchewan’s population is above or below one million? It’s a symptom of a much bigger problem with our economy. On the same day the new population losses were announced, the NDP revealed it had taken in $1.2 billion in the last budget year. To quote an article in Saskatchewan’s major daily newspapers “the money keeps flowing into Saskatchewan but people keep flowing out”.

We’re in the middle of an oil boom. We should be attracting more people, not losing them. And we’re losing our young people, the future wage earners who will help pay for our health care in the future. The respected independent statistician Doug Elliot says Saskatchewan faces a demographic crunch. The province’s workforce is getting old and older. He says our per capita GDP is being sustained by a bunch of 50 year-olds. And Elliot wonders what will happen when those people retire.

Saskatchewan truly does have a brand problem. Investors aren’t going to feel confident enough to create jobs and put dollars into this economy until they see a labour climate that’s fair for everyone, and a government that understands the need for a growth agenda—one that includes investments in infrastructure and education.

And Saskatchewan people won’t feel confident until they start feeling they also are receiving some of the benefits of the current prosperity which has, so far, only helped the NDP to collect more taxes.

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

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