Legislative Report
(25 February 2015)

The Conference Board of Canada is predicting that Saskatchewan’s economy will continue to grow this year, despite a significant shortfall in revenue brought on by the global price of oil. This is because the economy is increasingly diversified. In its latest economic forecast, the Conference Board confirms this, pointing to expected increases in potash and uranium production as well as growth in agriculture, manufacturing and construction sectors.

Increasingly, there is a de-linking between the fiscal state of the province and the economy. While there may be challenging times in one sector, growth and a number of positive indicators are seen in others. As uncertainty is dealt with, the government’s priorities won’t change. Saskatchewan remains committed to reducing debt, providing tax relief and investing in important infrastructure.

Since 2007 $3 billion has been put toward debt repayment, reducing interest costs and saving close to $1 billion. Taxes have been reduced, providing people with $5 billion in tax relief. $6.6 billion has been invested in capital projects, including 40 new schools, 15 long-term care facilities and a new Children’s Hospital. 8,500km of highways have been repaired or rebuilt – with more to do –and added 2,600 more front line health-care workers.

With work to finalize this year’s budget, focus will remain on controlling spending and keeping taxes as low as possible. Invest in infrastructure, innovation and skills training will continue. The Saskatchewan story will be told around the world. Most importantly, ground in the area of fiscal responsibility will not be given up.

A new survey by an independent think-tank identifies Saskatchewan as one of the most attractive places for mining investment – the best in Canada and behind only Finland in a worldwide ranking. This is extremely positive news. This survey actually shows the strength of the diverse economy, that despite a drop in the global price for oil, other sectors of the economy remain resilient. This is a testament to the hard work of Saskatchewan people.

The survey by The Fraser Institute compares a number of criteria across 122 jurisdictions. It was conducted between August 26 and November 15, 2014 with input from 485 mining and exploration executives from around the world. Kenneth Green, the survey’s senior director says that our province offers a competitive taxation regime, good scientific support, efficient permitting procedures and clarity around land claims – and that’s what miners look for. The Fraser Institute’s survey results can be viewed online at www.FraserInstitute.org.

Since 2007, Saskatchewan’s economy has added over 65,000 new jobs in a number of sectors, including almost 7,000 new workers in the resource sector alone. This is further evidence that the economy is strong and diversified and that the new Saskatchewan is working.

Mark it down as “case closed” in Saskatchewan’s favour, as the province has now won all aspects of its oilseed internal trade challenge with Quebec. An appeal panel, established under the pan-Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade, has released a final ruling upholding the Saskatchewan government’s successful challenge last spring of the Quebec government’s restrictions against the production, sale and marketing of vegetable oil-based dairy products in its market.

The Quebec government had appealed the original ruling, but in December had made changes to its Food Products Act removing barriers to the production and sale of vegetable-based oil products, thus allowing Saskatchewan producers and processors to now freely sell their products in Quebec. The appeal panel’s final ruling not only confirms that those changes by Quebec were necessary, but also upholds Saskatchewan’s challenge of Quebec labelling laws that prohibit the use of terms like “milk”, “butter” and “cheese” for dairy substitute products.

Efforts to win market access for Saskatchewan companies in Quebec has been successful. This is a victory for the internal trade process in Canada and, with this latest ruling, we’re confident Quebec will do the right thing and bring its labelling and marketing rules for dairy substitutes in line with the rest of Canada.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact my constituency office at 1-877-326-3652 (1-877-DAN-DMLA) or 306-443-2420.

Past Legislative Reports