• The Time for Action is Now

    March 1, 2018

    The Time for Action is Now

    Premier Scott Moe and his Cabinet members are getting ready for the next session of the Saskatchewan Legislature, which begins on Monday, March 12th. As they finalize their agenda and complete the budget planning process, I thought I would take a moment to list the things that we here at the SCA will be looking for from the government in the coming weeks. Our legislative advocacy agenda is based on the priorities of our members. We develop our list based on the challenges you’re facing every day in growing your businesses. What we’ve been hearing from you is that we need to focus on:

    Prompt Payment
    This is, by far, the top priority of our members. Companies want to get paid promptly for work they’ve completed. In 2017, Ontario passed Prompt Payment legislation, becoming the first Canadian jurisdiction to have these safeguards in place. The SCA and a group of industry partners created a partnership – called Prompt Payment Saskatchewan – to advance this priority. We’ve worked closely with the provincial government. All indications are that the government will introduce legislation to enshrine Prompt Payment during this Spring legislative session. We will be working to ensure this happens.

    Procurement Harmonization
    Several years ago, the provincial government embarked on a procurement improvement exercise designed to ensure that Saskatchewan suppliers had fair access to compete for publicly funded work in our province. Dubbed “Priority Saskatchewan,” this effort has been both positive and challenging. It has been positive in moving the government strongly toward “best value” procurement. Best value procurement is good in theory, but it requires harmonized procurement practices across ministries and crowns to ensure that you know what to expect when you bid on work.

    The government has been slow to move towards harmonized practices across all ministries, and especially within the Crown sector. With new Ministers in place, we will be looking for the government to make changes here. Every time you bid on government work – whether it is for Central Services, Highways, or SaskPower – you should know what to expect, and get what you expect. It’s time the government move more aggressively toward this goal.

    Trade Agreements
    It is possible that the time has come for Saskatchewan to walk away from the New West Partnership Trade Agreement. Ongoing trade issues with both British Columbia and Alberta seem to highlight that reciprocity and fairness between Western Canadian provinces when it comes to trade may no longer be possible. While the SCA is not advocating for abandonment of the NWPTA, we need to acknowledge that Saskatchewan’s economic success is dependent on international trade, not interprovincial trade. When our provincial neighbours are willing to create protectionist barriers around their borders, we need to consider doing the same for the sake of our businesses and employees. That isn’t something we can do within the NWPTA, so maybe we shouldn’t be members. We’ll be watching to see this government’s plan for interprovincial trade and how they will ensure that Saskatchewan companies have every opportunity to be successful.

    Like most Spring sessions of the Legislature, I expect this one to be dominated by the provincial budget. We will see what Premier Moe and his team do to move the province closer to fiscal balance while still advancing their growth agenda. There are no easy answers to the challenges we face. Here at the SCA, we will be working to ensure that prompt payment, procurement harmonization, and interprovincial trade don’t get lost in the budget noise.

    Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

    President and CEO
    Saskatchewan Construction Association