Legislative Report (18 July 2007)

Province's Youth Still See No Future Here

According to a report out from Statistics Canada this week based on the 2006 Census, the age of Canada’s population has undergone some significant changes.

Overall, Canada’s population is aging. We’re all living longer and having fewer children. The province with the highest proportion of seniors was Saskatchewan, where seniors account for more than 15 per cent of the total population—well above the national average.

According to the report, Saskatchewan’s age and gender breakdown is unique. While Saskatchewan has the largest number of seniors, the province also has one of the highest percentages of children under the age of 14. Statistics Canada reports that several factors are at work. Saskatchewan has a higher fertility rate than any other Canadian province. Until very recently, our clean air, clean water and comparatively healthy lifestyle allowed us to lead the nation in terms of life expectancy. Plus, as we all know from the number of out-of-province licence plates we see every summer, Saskatchewan has seen substantial numbers of young adults migrating to Alberta in search of career opportunities. These factors, according to Stats Canada, mean that Saskatchewan has a smaller proportion of people between the ages of 20 and 40.

And there’s the rub. In order to pay for the health, education and other important services needed by young and old alike, a province requires a growing and vibrant group of people in the middle. These are the people who earn wages, build careers and families, consume goods and pay taxes. We need to keep these well-trained people in Saskatchewan with solid careers and room for advancement. If this proportion of our population – those who work and pay taxes – continues to shrink, it will become difficult to support the public services we value.

Despite improvements in economic performance, young people apparently still do not see their future in Saskatchewan. According to a recent Canada West Foundation poll of westerners under the age of 35, one in four said it was unlikely they will stay in this province—the highest rate in any of the four western provinces.

In addition, when viewed over the longer term, recent improvements in job creation don’t seem as spectacular as recent NDP news releases suggest. When looked at over the past 25 years, job creation in Saskatchewan has lagged behind every other province in the country. That’s hardly the kind of sustained performance required to create certainty in the hearts and minds of our young graduates.

Further, even with record high commodity and real estate prices, there are clear signs the recent trend of increasing job creation is about to stall. After viewing the June numbers, provincial statistician Doug Elliot concluded job creation in Saskatchewan is slowing down. Elliot warned job growth could potentially stall altogether in our province, if the slowing trend seen in the past two or three months continues.

Saskatchewan needs a long term plan to foster sustained economic growth. Lorne Calvert and the NDP like to borrow ideas from the Saskatchewan Party—like tax cuts—that form part of the solution and produce some improvement. Yet the NDP has neither the imagination nor the fortitude to conceive of and deliver a plan for sustained economic growth. That’s why the NDP has to go. That’s why our province needs a Saskatchewan Party government.

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Lyle.

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