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Legislative Report (16 August 2006)

Legislative Report

16 August 2006

Saskatchewan's Labour Shortage

“If we don’t see population growth then the shortage of workers will affect the economy. People won’t invest here and people can’t be found to build a new plant, drill a new oil well or dig a new mine.”

“Saskatchewan is at a crossroad. If we don’t start attracting people to the province, the shortage will start to affect economic activity, if it hasn’t already.”

- Doug Elliott, Publisher Sask Trends Monitor, Saskatoon Star Phoenix, Aug. 15, 2006

It’s no secret Saskatchewan is losing people to other Canadian provinces – specifically Alberta. The continued population loss is creating a massive labour shortage in the province and the NDP has failed to present a solution to the problem.

Doug Elliott, a respected Saskatchewan statistician recently said that if Saskatchewan’s population does not grow soon, there will not be enough workers to fill the gaps and investment will go to other provinces.

Earlier this year, Statistics Canada released the population numbers for the first quarter of 2006. Saskatchewan lost another 2,000 people bringing its population to 989,000 – this is the lowest level since 1982. People continue to leave this province taking with them their families and their contributions to a growing economy.

The Official Opposition Saskatchewan Party recognizes that continued population loss and the resulting labour shortage are some of the most critical issues facing the province of Saskatchewan today.

In his paper on the economy, The Promise of Saskatchewan, Official Opposition Leader Brad Wall outlines a plan for a growth agenda for Saskatchewan. The plan is three-fold and involves long-term, predictable investment in post-secondary education and training, a long-term plan for investment in highways and other provincial infrastructure, and the reduction of barriers to growth in Saskatchewan. On the last point, barriers to growth are not always taxes. A barrier to growth could be a highway in terrible condition, not enough skilled workers, or a myriad of regulations.

Wall has proposed the creation of Enterprise Saskatchewan – a unique partnership that would bring business, labour, First Nations, post-secondary institutions and other stakeholders in the economy together in partnership with government to address the three priorities of a full growth agenda.

Instead of pitting groups against each other – business and labour, rural and urban – the Official Opposition believes the only way for Saskatchewan to reach its full potential is to have all stakeholders at the table on a permanent basis. Essentially, Enterprise Saskatchewan would turn direction for the economy back into the hands of the people who create the jobs, invest in the province and are responsible for building the labour force of the future. The labour shortage is not a problem that can be solved in isolation or by government alone.

The Official Opposition Saskatchewan Party is also committed to working with other western provinces in reducing inter-provincial trade barriers so that it is easier for a business or investor to locate in Saskatchewan and create jobs and careers for Saskatchewan people. Opportunity attracts people and good quality jobs and careers encourage them to stay in Saskatchewan. In order to address the labour shortage in Saskatchewan, we must attract people to this province, including those who have left for greener pastures.

A New West in emerging in Canada with Alberta and BC leading the way. It’s time for Saskatchewan to become a leader in the New West. People in Saskatchewan know we can and should be a part of it. And the Official Opposition Saskatchewan Party has the map to get us there.

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

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