5,800 full-time jobs lost, Sask. Party on a contracting-out spree

Statistics Canada says Saskatchewan shed 5,800 full-time jobs during the past year, throughout which the Sask. Party chose to send massive contracts to foreign corporations instead of hiring locally.

The full-time job losses were somewhat offset by the addition of part-time jobs.

“Instead of adding good, mortgage-paying careers here in Saskatchewan, we're seeing a trend toward precarious part-time employment,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “We need to stop all the contracting out this government is doing, because that's a big part of that problem.”

The smart meter fiasco was contracted out to a corporation from Pennsylvania and Texas. School construction has been contracted out to an international conglomerate. School maintenance on nine joint-use schools is being contracted out to a corporation from Milwaukee. Construction of the Regina Bypass is being contracted out to a corporation from France, which will also be paid for decades to come to operate and maintain the highway. Construction of a hospital in North Battleford will be done by a corporation from the United Kingdom, which will also handle maintenance in the hospital for the next 30 years. Food in correctional facilities has been contracted out to a catering company from the United Kingdom.

“Especially during a downturn in the price of oil and potash, we need the province to give local companies a fair shot at work here, to create as many opportunities as possible for locally owned businesses to be job creators,” said Wotherspoon. “It’s not hard to see that the Sask. Party’s choice to send all this work and billions of dollars out of the province is making things worse.”

The NDP has introduced a bill that addresses this problem by creating a new procurement policy that gives local companies an even playing field when it comes to public works, government and Crown contracts. During the fall session of the legislature, the NDP MLAs will keep calling for the Sask. Party to support that bill.

Industries that lost the most jobs year-over-year: agriculture (-3,800 jobs); public administration (-2,900 jobs); manufacturing (-2,600 jobs); forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas (-2,500 jobs); educational services (-2,100 jobs); professional, scientific and technical services (-1,900 jobs); construction (-1,500 jobs); and finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-1,200 jobs).

The unemployment rate is 5.1 per cent (seasonally adjusted), which is 1.6 points higher than it was last year at this time.