According to a recent report from Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan has lost 11,600 full-time jobs in one year. This has brought the unemployment rate up to 5.4 per cent, making it the largest year-over-year increase among all of the provinces.
“I think really what it points to is the need that we have in our province to strengthen the economy and better diversify,” said Cam Broten, leader of the Saskatchewan NDP.
Broten agreed that natural resources in the province are important and will continue to be in the future, but says Saskatchewan also needs to make sure there is long-lasting sustainability that’s long lasting and prosperity that is in place for future generations. Some of the things he thinks the province should look at in terms of diversification are investments in green technology and support for manufacturing by improving policies when it comes to government procurement.
Supporting the film industry in Saskatchewan was also something Broten mentioned, which he says was killed through actions taken by the Saskatchewan Party.
“All of these types of steps could make sure we have a better diversified economy so that we have more resiliency over the long run,” he said.
The cause of this job loss in the opinion of the NDP comes from a short-sighted approach by the government where it “put all of its eggs in one basket as opposed to making sure we have more baskets and more eggs.” The basket in question is the resource sector, which Broten says has seen record revenues, but he sees the overreliance in it as the government riding a wave and hoping for the best.
Manufacturing is one example he uses where the government has this flawed approach to procurement.
“There have been steel fabricators in the province that have been giving out pink slips while at the same time we’ve had semis rolling into the province with work from California or from Texas and that just doesn’t make sense. Why would we not be ensuring that our local economy in the province is as strong as it should be?”
Green technology is another suggestion the NDP has for helping vary the provincial economy. Broten says if energy was created across Saskatchewan in a variety of ways and the government patterned with local farmers, producers, First Nations and local municipalities to make it happen, there would be more options available, instead of the “tunnel vision” approach that the Saskatchewan Party tends to take.
But he says the government has also been reluctant to look into green energy investment.
“Under the Saskatchewan Party government, sadly there hasn’t been (green investment). In fact, if you look at the last consecutive budgets, anything with ‘green’ in it seemed to get its funding cut,” he said.