(11 April 2012)
Saskatchewan Budget Leads the Nation
It has been a few weeks since the Keeping the Saskatchewan Advantage 2012-13 provincial budget was delivered and we remain the only province in Canada to have a truly balanced budget. At the time of this writing, five other provinces and the federal government have all tabled budgets – and the one thing they have in common is that they are all deficit budgets. Because of the action our government has taken that is not the case in Saskatchewan. We will continue to manage the province’s finances in a fiscally responsible way that invests in the programs and services that are important to you.
I am pleased to report that the latest employment numbers paint a very positive picture for the fastest growing segment of our population. According to the most recent Statistics Canada report, off-reserve aboriginal employment was up by 4,700 in March, a gain of 13.7 per cent, for 10 consecutive months of year-over-year increases. The good news doesn’t stop there though. More young people of aboriginal descent are working. Aboriginal youth employment was up by 800, or 9.2 per cent, compared to the same month last year. That’s five months of back-to-back increases.
In terms of unemployment, the number of people without a job is also decreasing. In fact, Saskatchewan currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 4.8 per cent down from 5.0 last month and 5.2 a year ago. It is evident that people have confidence in our economy and businesses are expanding. That’s the Saskatchewan Advantage.
Saskatchewan was also recently ranked by the Fraser Institute's 2011 Global Petroleum Survey as the top jurisdiction in Canada for oil and gas investment. The oil and gas sector is one of Saskatchewan’s leading industries, accounting for $12.2 billion in sales in 2011 and an estimated $4.5 billion in investment in exploration and development. This means that there were an estimated 33,200 jobs in the upstream oil and gas industry in 2011, a 9.0 per cent increase from 2010. This is another great example of our strong and growing economy.
When I am asked by people why growth is so important I answer them this way: it is through growth that we can provide the services that make Saskatchewan the best place in Canada to live. Recently, your SaskParty government partnered with the Saskatoon Downtown Youth Center (EGADZ) to begin construction on two new homes that will help keep at-risk mothers and their newborn babies stay together in Saskatoon. Last week, we announced that in partnership with Habitat for Humanity we were providing funding for a home in Regina. We increased funding to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, to improve access to cancer care and services throughout Saskatchewan. In Regina, we have provided funding to begin planning for a new student housing project at the University of Regina. This is made possible in part due to the economic strength and growth of our province – growth the credit for which goes to you - the people of Saskatchewan. Together, we are making our province the best place in Canada to work, live and raise family.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Jim.
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