• Growing the Economy & Attracting Investment: Saskatchewan Needs More Economic Activity

    This is the third in a series of blog posts during the 2020 election season. Our goal is to make sure that the issues that matter most to you are front and centre on the agenda for the next governments in our province and our communities. In this post, I will focus on growing the economy and attracting investment. View previous blog posts here.

    Right now, the private sector in Saskatchewan is facing lots of uncertainty. As a result, they’re not spending money. When the private sector isn’t spending money, they aren’t starting new businesses and they’re not investing in their existing businesses. Of course, this means that there is less construction activity and therefore work to go around for our construction companies.

    The value of building permits tell us how much people are spending on infrastructure. Construction accounts for 8% of Saskatchewan’s workforce, and contributes approximately 7% to Saskatchewan’s GDP, meaning lots of construction equals a healthy economy.

    Over the first seven months of 2020, building permits in Saskatchewan are down an average of 27%. What’s more troubling, all of the decline has been on the non-residential side;

    • Commercial construction is down 42%;
    • Industrial construction is down 37%; and
    • Institutional and governmental permits are down 62%.

    Additionally, capital investment in Saskatchewan is down 15% from 2020.

    That decline is in spite of increased spending from the public sector. The obvious conclusion is that private sector investment has dried up.
    The provincial government announced a massive stimulus infrastructure investment earlier this year. Government investment into the economy, through things like tax incentives and infrastructure spending, is essential to sustaining economic growth, especially in slow times. However, government investment can’t be counted on to grow the economy. You need solid private sector investment to do that.

    Saskatchewan’s economy is powered by mining, agriculture, oil and gas, manufacturing, technology, and the value-added industries that connect to these core groups. When these sectors are growing, there is lots of demand for construction services.

    Saskatchewan used to be the cheapest place to build, and that was part of what attracted possible investments, especially those that were capital intensive. This is no longer the case, and we routinely hear from members about how Saskatchewan simply isn’t competitive anymore when it comes to investment attraction.

    Government should be focused on ensuring that Saskatchewan is a top destination for investment and should be active in celebrating Saskatchewan’s success stories and encouraging greater economic optimism and engagement.

    To help do these things, we have four calls to action for every candidate for MLA. We want them to commit to:

    • Commit to a thorough and independent taxation and regulation review that has the goal of making Saskatchewan the most attractive jurisdiction in Canada in which to invest as a business;
    • Invest more into the selling of Saskatchewan opportunities to Saskatchewan people and Saskatchewan businesses. Educate people on the advantages our province has, and the successes demonstrated by others. Celebrate what Saskatchewan has to offer to the world. All of this will help improve public perception and encourage an investment turnaround;
    • Recalibrate the Saskatchewan Growth Plan to reflect the realities of COVID-19, focus on supporting investments that add value to products before they leave our provincial borders, and work with the private sector to align public and private activities to move the Growth Plan forward; and
    • Take a stand against unnecessary regulatory burdens at the municipal level and inconsistencies from one municipality to the next. Saskatchewan needs every advantage it can get, and right now our municipal sector is more of a barrier to growth than an enabler of it. This needs to stop.
    Stay up to date with our construction-themed campaign this election.
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