Critics say Plan is Recycled Failure
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/20/2012 -- While Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall intends to expand the province’s population as a means to fuel economic growth, his opponents criticized the plan.
During his state of the province address Tuesday in Saskatoon, Wall laid out plans to build infrastructure and increase the population by 120,000 people by 2020.
"Saskatchewan people have seen the benefits of a growing province. More jobs, more opportunities and more revenue to deal with the challenges of growth,” he said. "Growth is not the purpose of our plans today - it is the means to these ends."
Wall said infrastructure is his top priority, but that conventional methods of funding it are no longer viable. To remedy that, the Saskatchewan Party will create a $150 million SaskBuilds fund with money from the growth and financial security fund to help underwrite public-private partnerships pertaining to infrastructure projects. Money from the fund could be used to begin building highway bypass roads in Saskatoon and Regina, for example, he said.
The NDP Opposition called the plan a "new booklet of old tricks" full of "recycled ideas."
"It set out these great aspirations, but no information as to where the money was going to come from or what they were actually going to do," interim leader John Nilson said Tuesday. He said SaskaBuilds is a repeat of previous efforts that failed.
Recently retired University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon will head the Saskatchewan Heritage Initiative, which will help determine how to use resource revenue going forward by looking at similar models in other countries. "[MacKinnon] may weigh in on timing. He might want it to start earlier. We're not going to limit him in any way," Wall said.
With its present population at 1,079,958, according to the latest Statistics Canada estimate, Saskatchewan would experience an 11% leap if it were to grow by 120,000 people by 2020. That, however, is the same trajectory the province has been on.
Such growth would require 60,000 more workers, Wall said in his speech, outlining plans to do more career training in high schools, add more training seats in technical colleges, and work more with First Nations and Metis organizations to increase employment.
The premier's plan, called Vision 2020, also details investment in affordable housing, with new initiatives proposed including selling 300 government-owned, single-family homes in Regina, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert and reinvesting the proceeds in medium-density, multiple-unit housing for Saskatchewan Housing Corp. clients.
Other pledges in the premier’s economic address included cutting the province’s debt level in half to $3.4 billion by 2017, leading Canada in Grade 12 graduation rates by 2020, and spending $2.5 billion on infrastructure over the next three budget cycles.
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