Legislative Report (15 October 2008)
MLAs Return to the Legislature
Saskatchewan’s MLAs return to the legislature next week, re-energized after a summer of consulting with constituents. The main topic of discussion was how to use the historic $3.1 billion surplus to benefit all Saskatchewan people. Debt reduction, investing in infrastructure and tax cuts were identified as priorities. In less than a year, our government has reduced the debt by about $2 billion, or a third. That is the largest-ever commitment to debt reduction in Saskatchewan history. Through the $1 billion Ready for Growth fund, we have been fixing roads, highways and hospitals neglected for far too long. We are now considering broadly-based tax cuts as the best way to ensure all Saskatchewan people benefit from our newfound prosperity.
SASKATCHEWAN’S LAND SALES HIT $1 BILLION IN 2008
There have been a lot of firsts in the 10 months since our government took office. The latest first happened when year-to-date revenue from the sale of Crown petroleum and natural gas rights passed the $1 billion mark, following the October land sale of $223.4 million. The tremendous response by industry will lead to high levels of oil and gas development activity in our province for years to come, meaning more jobs and more economic benefits for Saskatchewan people. The last land sale of the year is scheduled for December 8th.
SASK ECONOMY REMAINS STRONG
New Statistics Canada information paints a very positive picture of the provincial economy. International exports are way up; more people are working in Saskatchewan compared to a year ago; there are fewer unemployed people; and consumer confidence remains high. Statistics Canada says the value of international exports increased 104 per cent between August 2008 and August 2007, the highest among Canadian provinces and ten times the national average. The majority of the increase was due to petroleum products, but agriculture, mining and potash also helped increase international exports to more than $3 billion. On the job front, there were 522,500 people working in Saskatchewan in September, an increase of 18,100 from September 2007. As more people find jobs, Saskatchewan has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada, at 3.6 per cent. We also saw the second highest increase in new vehicles sales in Canada for August, in a show of consumer confidence that indicates our province is holding steady despite global economic uncertainty. As Saskatchewan continues to lead the country in key economic areas such as retail sales and GDP growth, our government remains committed to sustaining that growth and ensuring everyone shares in the benefits of prosperity.
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