An interesting debate is emerging in this country over the issue of infrastructure and how to support it.
In Saskatchewan, for example, we spent much of the 90’s simply getting by and investment in infrastructure took a back seat as we lived off depreciation – keeping the systems going but not updating them.
As we entered this century, the economy improved and we had more fiscal capacity but demands for new infrastructure to accommodate growth in population competed with renewal of legacy facilities.
Today, for example, we see the power corporation planning in the neighbourhood of $15 billion in investment over the next decade to renew and update. A good part of that improvement will include environmental enhancement.
The rising importance of infrastructure and environmental awareness is increasingly getting the attention of corporate boardrooms. A case in point is the release of a study by RBC Royal Bank on the state of Canada’s drinking water supply. When a bank is studying public attitudes towards water you know this topic has made it to the social and political agenda.
Last year was a good one for farmers in this province. Actually it was good for farmers across the country.
StatsCan has released its tally of 2015 net farm income. Nationally, it was up nearly 10-percent to more than $8 billion. More than a third of that net income was generated in Saskatchewan which accounts for roughly half the farmland in the country and pretty much all of the increase came from the three Western-most provinces.
The big mover last year was lentils. Its contribution to the national total grew by 110-percent over the previous year. And virtually all the lentils in the country are grown in Saskatchewan so it provided a boost here.
Receipts or income was up for most crops last year, supported in part by the depreciating Canadian dollar, however, there was some downward price pressure brought on by strong global inventories.
This was the fifth increase in net farm income in six years and while the bottom line rose by more than nine percent, expenses increased by less than two-percent.
There have been some modest ups and downs in the past twelve months but the average non-farm weekly wage in this province has remained largely unchanged.
Once a month we get a report on wage levels. These are calculated on a weekly basis and include overtime. What Saskatchewan workers saw in March was an average weekly pay packet of $987. That was down about $8 from the previous month but virtually unchanged from where they were a year earlier.
As we watch the labor market – one where the number of unemployed has risen – we would expect some softening of wage rates. After all, it is a buyer’s market right now. But that really has not shown up in the stats.
Instead they have been relatively stable, moving in a range of $10 or $12. That still leaves us in third spot in the country, behind Alberta and Newfoundland. But those are moving closer to us…while we moved about $2.50 in the last year, they saw declines ranging from $15 to $25. Manitoba and Quebec, on the other hand, were up about $25 a week.
Paul Martin You’ve heard him on the radio, seen him on TV and read him in newspapers and magazines. Paul is a popular keynote speaker on topics ranging from the economy to tapping community potential. His unique blend of communication and business knowledge has made him a highly sought-after consultant. As the Chair of Martin Charlton Communications, Paul is MCC’s ‘go to’ guy for all things business in Saskatchewan. He is the chair of four Saskatchewan branches of TEC (The Executive Committee) – a global organization dedicated to improving the performance and enhancing the lives of CEOs – which has over 50 CEOs and senior executives among its Saskatchewan members. The long and short: Paul knows the province’s corporate community and business economy like few others. He is a potent conduit for anyone looking to do business in Saskatchewan, Canada’s fastest growing economy. His strategic advice is unrivalled.