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Still polar opposite views on state of Saskatchewan’s economy

Daily Leg Update - Premier Moe characterizes economy as “scorching hot;” opposition NDP calls it worst in the country.
Opposition Leader Carla Beck speaks to reporters following Question Period April 17.

REGINA - Your outlook on how the Saskatchewan economy is performing might differ depending on which political party you support.

On Monday at the Legislative Assembly in Regina, and at the SUMA convention in Saskatoon, the SaskParty government spun a positive view of the economy.

At his address at SUMA, Premier Scott Moe gave an upbeat view as he pointed to investments in mining, energy and agriculture, expansions of plant capacity, resumptions of activity in the mining industry and activity in forestry as well.

But in Question Period Monday, on their first day back in the Legislature after the one-week Easter break, the Opposition New Democrats resumed their day-after-day portrayal of the Saskatchewan economy as the worst-performing in the country.

Opposition Leader Carla Beck scorched Premier Moe for characterizing it as “scorching hot” during his previous response in Question Period just prior to the break.

“Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is a Premier failing to deliver when it comes to job creation. And the latest numbers from Stats Canada, well they bear that out. Since that Premier came to office, he has the worst jobs record in Canada, Mr. Speaker; it’s not even close. 3.9 per cent — certainly not scorching hot as that Premier would have us believe. 

“When will the Premier accept any responsibility for the fact that under his watch Saskatchewan has the worst jobs creation record in the whole country?”

Minister of Trade and Economic Development Jeremy Harrison responded by pointing to wholesale trade numbers showing the province had a 30 per cent increase over the last year. 

He also pointed to exports being up nearly 32 per cent, and credited that to work the province had done to engage internationally — “something that the NDP criticize every single opportunity that they get,” said Harrison.

“In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, what do they accuse the government of? They accuse the government of being ‘toxic positivity.’ That’s their phrase, Mr. Speaker, they’ve been using to describe the government. On this side of the House, we’re not going to apologize for being positive.”

“Mr. Speaker, I think we’ve discovered toxic spin,” Beck responded.

Premier Moe also talked positive during Question Period Monday, repeating many of the talking points from his SUMA address earlier that day.

“Mr. Speaker, again up at SUMA today talking about 10,000 jobs year over year, 20,000 people in the last four and a half months. They’re coming here, Mr. Speaker, because there’s a Cargill crush plant being built just west of this city; AGT has a partnership with Federated Co-op in another plant, Mr. Speaker.

“We’re seeing Viterra’s investment just north of the city. Cargill again in Clavet, Mr. Speaker. We see Richardson doubling the capacity of their canola crush plant in Yorkton. And just last week, Louis Dreyfus has announced that they also are going to double the capacity of their facility in Yorkton.”

Undeterred, Beck proceeded to attack Moe on the affordability issue, pointing to Angus Reid poll numbers where “52 per cent say that they’re in bad or terrible shape and are struggling just to get by.”

“Mr. Speaker, the minister would have us believe that everything is just fine, the Premier that the job creation is scorching hot. Mr. Speaker, it shows how out of touch they really are.”

Moe’s response, as recorded in Hansard: 

“Mr. Speaker, ‘Saskatchewan’s labour market has been scorching hot in 2022.’ Those aren’t my words; those are The Conference Board of Canada’s words, Mr. Speaker.

"'We project GDP growth to be the strongest in Saskatchewan.’ That’s RBC [Royal Bank of Canada] provincial outlook for the province of Saskatchewan.”

Premier Moe also quoted Toronto-Dominion Bank for their provincial forecast stating Saskatchewan was on track for robust expansion and “lead the pack” in real GDP growth. 

Moe also pointed to this quote: “‘I think we have one hell of a story to tell in this province about the quality of life, about the opportunity that’s here. We need to be telling that story.’ I was just doing that at SUMA, Mr. Speaker. ‘In an affordability crisis, we have some of the best rates as a province, the most affordable housing in the country.’

“Mr. Speaker, that’s the Leader of the Opposition.”

In speaking to reporters following Question Period, Beck continued to express disbelief over the government’s characterization of the economy as being good.

“The reality is we have the worst jobs record in the country, and we have a Premier that doesn’t seem capable of acknowledging the fact that we are struggling in this province,” said Beck. 

She also pointed to the reaction from people in general.

“Go look at Main Street. Go look at small businesses that are shuttering. Go look at people who are taking out a second job or falling behind on their bills. Take a walk down any street, almost, in the province. Certainly, we’ve seen that when we’ve been door-knocking. People are really struggling, and more and more we are hearing that people feel that this is a government that has stopped listening. They’re tired and out of touch.”