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Focus on agriculture, increasing oil production among aims of new Sask. growth plan
SASKATOON -- Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe’s new growth plan includes two lofty goals: adding more than 220,000 residents and 100,000 jobs.
"We make no apologies for putting out a stretch target, but that is the overarching plan, to grow our population here in the province," Moe said. "We will do that by working closely with the industries that are providing jobs across this province."
On Thursday, Moe unveiled a 10-year growth plan for the province during a Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Prairieland Park.
The plan is comprised of 30 goals to be met by 2030, including growing agricultural exports to $20 billion, increasing oil production to 600,000 barrels a day and tripling growth in the province's technology sector.
Three new offices are planned to open in Japan, India and Singapore with the aim of fostering international trade and investment. The plan calls for increasing exports by 50 per cent.
To help Saskatchewan strengthen existing trade relations while building new trade partners, the province has hired former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Harper and Associates as a consulting partner in those three international trade offices.
“We can have an impact on our trade relationships with the 150-plus countries that we work with each and every year,” Moe said. “We can have an impact on them buying more products from Saskatchewan that is why … we’re expanding trade offices and we’re going to employ former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to help guide us with some access into these markets.”
The trade opportunities far outweigh the cost of opening those offices, Moe said.
"In the scope of $30 million worth of exports in the province, the cost is extremely minimal," Moe said, adding the cost for those offices will be made public once they open.
Garnering praise from the audience, Moe also announced the re-instatement of the PST-exemption for exploratory and down-hole drilling activity in the mining sector.
"We heard from the industry that the PST changes brought in two years ago were putting a damper on our exploration activity thereby putting a damper on opportunities for our future," Moe said.
Other goals listed in the plan include:
- Annual private capital investment of $16 billion
- $9 billion in potash sales
- Building and upgrading 10,000 kilometres of highways
- Supporting communities through $2.5 billion in revenue sharing
- Reducing surgical wait times to a three-month target
Opposition Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Ryan Meili told reporters he's skeptical about the plan.
"Where are the children of those 1.4 million people going to go to school when we’ve seen big cuts to education?" Meili said. “Where are people going to get healthcare when our emergency rooms are already in crisis.”
When asked how an NDP growth plan would differ from Moe’s plan, Meili responded saying his party’s plan would look similar but include support for more economic sectors.
"Like film and culture, there was no mention of renewables and the enormous opportunity we have for solar, wind and geothermal, that was missing," Meili said, adding he’s happy to hear about the PST exemption for mining companies, but questioned why the exemption didn't go further.
"No mention of the PST and how it’s harmed the construction industry, no mention of making sure we have a focus on building Saskatchewan companies."
Meili said he also wanted to hear more about the government’s plans for climate change and the federal carbon tax.
"How is this government going to respond to the carbon pricing from the federal government if not successful at the Supreme Court, how does that work?"