Larry Doke, MLA for Cut Knife-Turtleford, said that after the great year the province of Saskatchewan has had in 2014, people are now coming back to the province after years of fleeing for more opportunities.
“Personally from my perspective, it went really well,” Doke said in an interview with the Lloydminster Source. “I think that we got a lot of things accomplished, and a lot of things underway.”
Doke said that under the current government, there has been 24 months of the lowest unemployment rate in Canada.
“To me that means a lot,” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago that there wasn’t many jobs in the area, but even with the slowing of the oil sector we are still seeing excellent jobs in Saskatchewan.”
He added that with 15,000 more people working in the province, it is moving forward with growth in a sustainable way.
Looking at the next generation of workers, Doke said that under previous governments, youth were fleeing the province to work, but now youth are staying in Saskatchewan to both grow a family and work.
“Youths are staying in the province, and that means a lot to me,” Doke said, adding that his children left the province under previous governments, but have found their way back in recent years.
In the last year, Doke said that the province under Premier Brad Wall has become more diversified.
“We are not solely relying on potash, we don’t solely rely on oil,” he said. “Our manufacturing sector is through the roof.”
While in the last few months of the 2014 calendar year the drop in oil prices has been worrisome, Doke said that Saskatchewan has seen no slowing in the manufacturing sector.
“That is the good thing about this province, we have businesses that have their head office in Saskatchewan now. Saskatchewan has become the place to be in the last year,” he added.
Doke said in the interview that he was proud the government increased the spaces for apprentices in the province of Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan currently,“has over 7,000 seats for apprenticeships in the province of Saskatchewan,” Doke said. Making that an increase of over 86 per cent since 2007.
“We are reacting to what the market and industry needs. We are not afraid to increase seats and get the job done,” he said.
Doke said that he is also excited about creation of the new carbon capture facility at Boundary Dam Unit 3 in the province.
“I think that capturing 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide in the dam and use it in the mature oil fields for the recovery of oil,” he said.
“This project will be huge for us in the province of Saskatchewan.”
It was also a big year for Doke himself, in early 2014 he was named as the legislative secretary to the minister of highways.
Doke said that his new role has given him a chance to see the province up close and personal.
“I have been out there,” he said. “I have travelled the province, I have seen the roads that are getting repaired. And believe me, there is more to be done on this file.”
“The $668 million highways budget this year is huge, and it was the second budget in a row that saw a funding for our highways that big.
“There has been 8,600 kilometres of road improvements since those budget passed.”
Doke said that he has been proud to serve in the capacity of legislative secretary to the minister of highways in the past year. “I’m really proud of the work that we have done,” he said.
One of the issues that he personally has heard about over the last year is the issue around long-term care facilities in the province.
“We are very fortunate in my constituency to have four really good facilities,” he said.
Looking forward to 2015, Doke said that the province is in good shape in the face of falling oil prices.
“I think that, in my opinion, 2015 will be a repositioning year,” he said. “I don’t think that OPEC will back down much on this oil issue.
“I think it will be a status quo from the government, we will continue to monitor our numbers.”
Doke said that he doesn’t believe that Finance Minister Ken Krawetz will go on any wild spending sprees in 2015.
“Having served with the finance minister on the Treasury Board, I know how he thinks. He isn’t one to take any chances,” said Doke.
Doke said that he believe the government will continue on with the projects that are currently slated to be finished.
“We also will be heading into an election year, we aren’t sure if it will be in the fall of 2015, or the spring of 2016.”