SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan government has hired former prime minister Stephen Harper's consulting firm Harper and Associates in what it calls an effort to boost international trade.

"Harper and Associates has the expertise and experience to assist us as we work to increase our exports and attract further investment into the province," Premier Scott Moe said in a news release.

The announcement came Thursday as Moe unveiled his government's new growth plan during a Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce breakfast. The plan includes several goals for the next decade, one of which is boosting international trade.

"We're going to employ former prime minister Stephen Harper to help guide us with some access into these markets," Moe said during his speech.

While speaking with reporters after the breakfast, Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili questioned the government's decision to employ a "high-profile political ally."

"I've seen this government pull this stunt before. They like to use public money to work with companies that are associated with - folks that are affiliated with them politically," Meili said.

"Is this the right choice for Saskatchewan or the right choice for the Saskatchewan Party?"

Hiring Harper and Associates will cost the province $240,000 according to the provincial government.

Harper and Associates' primary online presence consists of a section on the former prime minister's personal website with a single-line description.

"Harper & Associates combines the global network, experience and insight of a G-7 Leader to create value for clients," the description says.

The firm will help the province target international regions of importance, specifically markets in Asia, the government said in its release.