Premier speaks at Heritage Inn dinner
Premier Brad Wall was triumphant in his speech during the Moose Jaw premier's dinner at the Heritage Inn Thursday evening.
© Justin Crann
Premier Brad Wall speaks with reporters following his dinner speech at Heritage Inn Thursday evening.
"The Province of Saskatchewan has grown by more than 100,000 people in the last six years. It took 77 years before that for the province to grow by that same number," Wall told a sold-out room. "We are on pace to create close to 20,000 jobs this year. The record for annual job creation in the province goes back to the 1970s, and it's about 13,000."
To hear Wall tell it, there is a lot to be optimistic about in Saskatchewan.
"Our resource sector is strong and expanding, notwithstanding the fluctuations of the potash market," he said. "Exports are up — we've surpassed British Columbia in terms of provincial exports."
Wall spoke in an overwhelmingly positive manner about the province's prospects, emphasizing a continued focus on growth and trade.
"We're going to continue focusing on trade … especially in Asia, where that economy is growing, where the market is wanting what we have to offer, and buying in large numbers already," he said.
Saskatchewan's strong job creation "is a credit to the economy and the people of the province," Wall told reporters after his speech.
"Look at this city, and what's happened here in Moose Jaw in terms of job creation and population growth," he added. "That's happening because of the people of the province — small businessmen and women all over Saskatchewan.
"As a government, we have a role, and I think our growth plan can help. We can build the infrastructure. We can keep taxes low. We can keep the labour-legislative balance right, and hopefully stay out of the hair of the people who are creating jobs. But it's really a credit to them."
However, Wall said, "there's more work to be done."
"We've paid off about 44 per cent of the general revenue debt. … Our goal is to pay off all of the debt," he said. "When we do, the question becomes, what do we do with the additional resources that we'll have? We should put them away for the long term."
Still, Wall suggested, the focus will remain on growth — both of the economy and the province's population — in order to drive future successes.
"Maybe the most important thing of all … is that we remain focused on sustaining the growth, that we not forget what it was like when the buzzword was decline, and we bought luggage for graduation presents for the kids," he said.
"We don't just want to grow because there's lots of room. We want to grow because of the dividends that growth can provide."
ON PAGE TWO: The Premier responds to Broten's "rehashing" accusation