Monday September 01, 2014

Province on target with plan in 2013

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Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit

Saskatchewan has a plan and the government is staying the course with what it has laid out.

Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit said the province’s ‘Saskatchewan Plan for Growth’ is a blueprint stretching forward to 2020 and beyond, adding the government of Premier Brad Wall has worked to keep on course through 2013.

And Ottenbreit said that will be the focus of 2014 as well.

“We’re on track to stick with that (the plan),” he said.

The effort of staying with a plan is paying off, said Ottenbreit. He said when looking at several key economic indicators; the overall economic growth, population numbers, the strength of agriculture, Saskatchewan is doing very well.

“The economic growth is very strong,” he said, adding in most economic indicators Saskatchewan has “been consistently top-two in Canada. … A lot of people around the world are starting to learn what Saskatchewan has to offer.”

Ottenbreit said part of the reason for the strong economic activity is because the province no longer relies on a single economic driver.

Today, while potash is important, so too is oil and gas, other mining activities and of course agriculture, he said. It’s significant “how diversified our economy has become.”

Of all the numbers, seeing more people in Saskatchewan is perhaps the most significant indicator, since people move for jobs, and what they see as the potential for a better future, suggested Ottenbreit.

“The population numbers are fairly encouraging,” he said, adding when the Saskatchewan Party was in opposition and suggesting a population growth of one per cent a year for 10 years, the New Democrats scoffed at the goal.

“The province has actually done that (growth) in six years,” he said.

Of course as the province grows, the systems of government must adapt.

“We have to meet the challenges of growth,” he said.

Locally the 2013 announcement a new Trades and Technology Centre for Parkland College would move forward was big news, said Ottenbreit.

“We’ll see some (construction) activity there soon,” he said, adding it is a facility which will be important in training people and creating careers associated with future provincial growth.

“It will help not only the local economy and labour shortages, but provincially too.”

Ottenbreit said it must also be remembered what growth is really about.

“Growth is not an end on to itself,” he said. “It’s about a better quality of life for all Saskatchewan people.”

It’s a case of taking advantage of the economic strength to fund social programs, infrastructure renewal, address debt, and in the end create a better future for the province.

Along the way the government has to balance what people “want, need and expect from government,” said Ottenbreit.

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