10,400 more unemployed and looking for work

There were 10,400 more people unemployed and looking for work in Saskatchewan compared to one year ago, driving the unemployment rate up.

The new numbers released Friday by Statistics Canada show the number of jobs in Saskatchewan dropped in December, driving the unemployment rate up to 5.1 per cent on an unadjusted basis, or 5.5 per cent when seasonality is taken into account.

NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon said the Sask. Party coasted through good times rather than preparing for down turn, and is still sending far too much work to other provinces and countries.

“The Regina bypass is being built and maintained by a corporation from France,” said Wotherspoon. “A hospital in North Battleford will be built and maintained by a corporation from England. Schools will be built and maintained by an international conglomerate. SaskPower is still outsourcing to a corporation from the United States.

“Some local jobs come from these contracts – but the deals also create jobs in France, Texas, Milwaukee, London and for workers from other provinces, while also shipping billions of Saskatchewan dollars to those jurisdictions. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot with all this contracting out.”

Wotherspoon said Saskatchewan companies do high quality work, more cost-effectively – and it shouldn’t be up to a corporation from Europe deciding if subcontracting goes to a Saskatchewan company or if an Alberta, California or Texas firm will get the job instead.

The NDP proposed a new procurement law that would give Saskatchewan companies an even playing field when it comes to bidding on government work here. The Sask. Party voted against that bill.

Wotherspoon also noted that the Statistics Canada report shows the off-reserve First Nations unemployment rate is a cause for alarm. That unemployment rate is now 19.9 per cent – much worse than the still-dismal 13.9 per cent unemployment rate of one year ago.

“The Sask. Party’s record on First Nations education, training and employment is terrible -- that not acceptable from a moral perspective or even from an economic perspective,” said Wotherspoon. “Things like scrapping the successful Aboriginal Employment Development Program obviously did damage, and Saskatchewan just can’t afford to keep going down this road.”

On-reserve employment numbers are not tracked.

Province-wide, sectors that lost the most jobs over the last year include: education (4,000 jobs lost); public administration (3,100 jobs lost); forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas (2,600 jobs lost); construction (1,600 jobs lost); agriculture (1,200 jobs lost); and manufacturing (800 jobs lost)