Seeing thousands of jobs lost in fields like agriculture and manufacturing is a serious concern, pointing to a lack of economic diversity to get the province through a period of low oil prices.
Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey for February, released Friday, shows several non-oil and gas sectors lost jobs compared to one year earlier, including:
- agriculture, which lost 3,200 jobs;
- manufacturing, which lost 2,800 jobs;
- transportation and warehousing, which lost 2,400 jobs; and
- professional, scientific and technical services, which lost 1,000 jobs.
Saskatchewan now has an overall unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent. The mining, oil and gas sector is down 1,400 jobs compared to last year, and 2,000 jobs compared to a month ago.
“During a decade of resource wealth, the government should have been fostering new growth in industries outside of the resource sector in order to build long-term, stable prosperity,” said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. He pointed to the government’s elimination of the lucrative film industry, slashing supports to entrepreneurs and using a procurement policy that’s been highly damaging to local industries, including manufacturing, as steps in the wrong direction.
“Especially since this government failed to save a dime over the last eight years, Saskatchewan families are worried they could be on the hook to cover the shortfall after next week’s budget,” said Wotherspoon. “Whether it’s through property tax hikes or cuts to services families need, people shouldn’t have to pay for this government’s mistakes.”
Wotherspoon said meaningful action can be taken immediately to boost our economy and ensure that families don't have to keep paying the price for this government's misplaced priorities.
He called on the government to quickly pass the NDP’s Fairness for Saskatchewan Businesses bill, which would fix the government's procurement policy in order to give Saskatchewan businesses in sectors like manufacturing a level playing field, so more work would go to local businesses instead of out-of-province and out-of-country corporations. He also urged the government to start spending wisely, instead of continuing to blow money on wasteful pet projects, like the John Black Lean program and the layers of permanent Lean management staff and $20 million-per-year Kaizen Promotion Offices that have been added.
Wotherspoon also noted that the government’s choice to hide the province’s third-quarter financial update lacks transparency, and is hurting business confidence.