Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate rose slightly in April, but a local MLA says he hopes provincial initiatives can help bring the rate back down.
The province's numbers climbed to 6.3 per cent last month, an increase from 5.8 per cent in March, based on Statistics Canada's latest report.
“It’s something we watch very closely and we’re concerned with it,” Battlefords MLA Herb Cox said. “In the 10 years since we formed government, we’ve created 62,000 jobs in this province. Unfortunately, our unemployment rate went up a little bit last month, very similar to what the unemployment rate did in Alberta."
On a positive note, Cox said Saskatchewan's youth unemployment rate is the third lowest among all provinces.
Saskatchewan's total unemployment rate was above the national average unemployment rate of 5.8 per cent in April. The lowest unemployment rate across Canada was 5.0 per cent in B.C., while the highest was 14.5 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador. Other provinces which saw an increase were Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and British Columbia. Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Manitoba all saw a declining unemployment rate, while only New Brunswick remained the same at 8.0 per cent.
Cox said Saskatchewan is dealing with a number of challenges impacting unemployment numbers.
“We are facing some headwinds as far as the global commodity prices," Cox said.
Fertilizer firm Nutrien Ltd. issued temporary layoffs at two of its Saskatchewan potash mines in April. Spokesperson Will Tigley told battlefordsNOW there were about 470 layoffs at the Vanscoy site last month, but workers have since returned. About 140 workers were temporarily laid off at the company's Allan facility, Tigley said, but he noted temporary layoffs are not uncommon in the industry. The recent temporary layoffs, he said, were related to rail transportation backlogs.
Cox said the province has tried to "move away from its dependency on oil and non-renewable resources," in its last two provincial budgets and instead rely more on commodity-based resources. The province has focused on a number of tax incentive plans to boost the economy and spur job creation, Cox noted, including establishing the Saskatchewan Technology Start-up Incentive and Saskatchewan Value-Added Agriculture Incentive.
“That’s going to encourage capital investments into some pretty large-scale value-added ag projects,” he said. “It’s going to not only create jobs, but it’s going to create a market for our products.”
On Twitter: @battlefordsNOW
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