Saskatchewan’s economy appears to be on an upswing and may be poised to lead the country in growth next year, according to the Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) economic outlook report.
The report examines the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country and each province. After showing slight declines for two years, Saskatchewan’s GDP bounced back to grow by 2.1 per cent in 2017. RBC attributes this growth to recovery in the energy sector and projects the momentum to continue with a growth rate of 2.9 per cent in 2018.
The RBC report also highlights greater gains in potash production driven by high global demand and securing contracts with China and India as a reason for growth. This was tempered by cutbacks in the uranium mining sector. Agriculture also took a hit this year due to dry conditions for harvest.
In his final month in the top office, Premier Brad Wall is looking at the bigger picture of the economic turnaround, pointing to the Sask. Party’s growth plan as a reason for success.
“A big part of our growth plan has been a foundation of fiscal responsibility but also keeping things competitive from a tax point of view,” he told 980 CJME’s John Gormley in an interview Thursday.
Wall noted the recent budget began to shift away from depending on resource revenue and towards consumption taxes on the recommendation of economists for long-term strength.
Wall pointed to competitive tax rates for business investments in Saskatoon and a wave of small businesses starting up in Regina as indicators of strong local economic growth. He said this is a good example of the reasons to focus on business growth and investment, rather than relying on government stimulus for the economy and running deficits to do so.
“We’ve lowered tax rates for small business and I think in the new year you’re actually going to see some really positive announcements related to the tech side – the innovation part of our growth plan,” Wall said.
Minister of the Economy Steven Bonk also addressed the economic outlook report while speaking to reporters at the legislature. He said he is pleased to see the economy heading in the right direction.
“We’re very anxious to have more trade agreements across the world because Saskatchewan exports 98 per cent of what we produce so trade is very important for our economic growth,” Bonk said.
He said stable regulations combined with maintaining business-friendly markets and the focus on exports is reaping benefits for Saskatchewan’s economy.