Big drop in Saskatchewan manufacturing needs attention

Sask. Party contracting to foreign companies, still failing to act on NDP procurement policy

Manufacturing sales in Saskatchewan are down 13 per cent compared to a year ago. The NDP wants the Sask. Party’s bad procurement policy and heavy reliance on foreign corporations for Saskatchewan work to change quickly.

The manufacturing sales numbers were released Wednesday by Statistics Canada. Saskatchewan’s 13 per cent slide compared to one year earlier stacks up very poorly against a national average decline of 2.8 per cent.

“While Saskatchewan manufacturers are in lay-off mode, trucks from outside the province are still rolling into Saskatchewan with products that could be manufactured here,” said Trent Wotherspoon. “A corporation from France will build, operate and maintain the Regina bypass. A conglomerate from the United Kingdom has been awarded the contract for the Saskatchewan Hospital at North Battleford. The P3 schools will be built by a conglomerate from British Columbia and a corporation from Milwaukee will do all the maintenance on those schools for the next 30 years.

“Mr. Wall is simply wrong in his insistence that foreign conglomerates can build Saskatchewan better than Saskatchewan companies can.”

The P3-rental approach – a complex ownership scheme that often bundles projects into sizes too big for a local company to take on – is part of the problem. The Sask. Party’s lazy procurement policy is another part of the problem. The government considers only the lowest initial price in procuring products and services, failing to take into account a variety of factors that often lead to higher final prices and lower quality products. Other provincial governments have more sophisticated procurement policies as well as clauses that ensure a level playing field for bids from their own province.

The NDP tabled a bill in November 2014 with a new procurement policy spelled out. The Sask. Party said it needed until September 2015 to think about it – maybe longer.

"All Saskatchewan businesses want is a level playing field," said Wotherspoon. “Given a level playing field, they can and will be competitive and they will deliver good, mortgage-paying jobs for Saskatchewan workers.

“The Sask. Party’s choice to send contracts and billions of dollars to France, Milwaukee and London isn’t the best solution for our province’s economy, for the people who live and pay taxes here, or for the businesses that employ Saskatchewan people and keep our economy going. I want Saskatchewan companies and Saskatchewan workers to benefit most from our province’s economy – not conglomerates from France.”