Saskatchewan Begins 2019 in Good Standing
Saskatchewan people are innovative, adaptable and determined. Entering 2019, we are still facing challenges within our economy. The federal government’s imposition of a damaging carbon tax and a deeply discounted price for our oil caused by a lack of pipelines have created significant challenges, yet Saskatchewan’s economy is showing signs of strength and improvement.
Saskatchewan is leading the country in job growth. As of November, Saskatchewan has the highest rate of year-over-year job growth in Western Canada at 2.9 per cent, ranking second nationally, behind Prince Edward Island. Full-time employment increased by 10,200 jobs and part-time increased by 6,100 jobs since this time last year. This is the largest job increase since 2013 and marks the fourth consecutive month of strong job gains for the province. Even with some major infrastructure projects like the construction of 18 new schools now complete, the construction sector saw year-over-year gains of 1,500 jobs and a month-over-month increase of 300 jobs (seasonally adjusted).
Saskatchewan’s 2018-19 Budget remains on track, with a balanced budget this spring within our Government’s financial plan. At mid-year, the projected deficit for 2018-19 was actually $17 million less than anticipated. Higher forecast revenue, up $138.1 million from budget, has helped reduce the projected deficit. Revenue is forecast to be up due to higher projected resource revenue and higher net income from Government Business Enterprises, federal transfers and other own-source revenue, partially offset by lower personal income tax revenue. Expense is forecast to be up $121.1 million from budget. Nearly half of the increase is pension expense, reflecting changes in interest rates and actuarial assumptions. Increases at mid-year also reflect higher-than-budgeted expense for child and family services, health services and forest-fire operations.
Signs of economic improvements are also acknowledged by Saskatchewan’s recently confirmed triple-A credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service. Our province has the second-highest credit rating in Canada when ratings from the three major agencies are combined. Saskatchewan is also forecast to have the third-lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the country.
Saskatchewan ranked first in retail sales growth among Canada’s provinces in September, with a 1.7 per cent increase from the previous month and higher than the national average of 0.2 per cent. Wholesale trade in Saskatchewan jumped 11.4 per cent the same month (seasonally adjusted) when compared to September of 2017, the second highest percentage increase among the provinces. These statistics reflect confidence in our economy, both from businesses and consumers.
We continue to see improvements in health care. Saskatchewan patients have the shortest total wait times in the country to see a specialist, according to the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of Canadian specialists.
Your Saskatchewan Party government will continue to stand up for Saskatchewan in those areas of significant challenge. We will remain focused on fighting the federal carbon tax, moving forward to mitigate the effects of climate change, and working to get pipelines built so that our economy remains strong to attract business and provide for the services the people of our province expect and deserve.