Business Competitiveness & Innovation
As one of the most trade-dependent provinces in one of the most trade-dependent nations in the world, attracting and retaining private-sector investment – both at home and abroad – is imperative for Saskatchewan to ensure its high standard of living. Recently, a culmination of events have created competitiveness challenges for businesses in Saskatchewan and in Western Canada more generally. There is also a growing perception both at home and abroad, that Canada is becoming an increasingly hostile jurisdiction in which to do business. An uncompetitive business environment will generate fewer economic development projects, resulting in less tax revenue for governments, and fewer employment opportunities.
Uncompetitive taxation levels, along with a host of anti-free enterprise policies are hindering investment attraction and retention, slowing growth in business start-ups, reducing the rate of private capital expenditure, and generating disappointing productivity growth rates. Nevertheless, there are significant export market opportunities opening up around the world with the growth of middle class consumers in emerging economies. Both Saskatchewan and Canada must create a highly competitive economic ecosystem to capitalize on such opportunities.
Recommendations from Beyond 2020: A Blueprint for Saskatchewan Business Competitiveness
- Provide S.T.E.P with the additional resources they need to access new markets for Saskatchewan products and to fund the development of service exports through the Trade Accelerator Program.
- Continue working to reduce interprovincial trade barriers (specifically: eliminate barriers for goods) and building support for pipelines to take energy resources to tidewater.
- Develop “services” as an export commodity. Technical expertise and other human resources are one of Saskatchewan’s most valuable and underutilized export commodities.
- Build support with the Federal Government to grow the manufacturing sector in Saskatchewan and focus on meeting new market demands.
- Invest in infrastructure and education that helps develop the ecosystem for the tech industry in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan needs investment to train leaders and realize value from technological advancement. Expanding the tech sector requires teaching and training a highly skilled workforce, and achieving this requires stable, predictable post-secondary education funding.
- Support innovation in the agricultural sector by partnering with Protein Industries Canada. This involves creating investment conditions that support the construction of processing plants and facilities, as well as collaborating on research and funding research centres that serve the needs of the protein market.
- Implement the financial literacy curriculum in all Saskatchewan secondary schools by 2023 and make this curriculum mandatory for graduation by 2025.
- Partner with the Federal Government and First Nations and Metis leadership to establish and support a program for northern Saskatchewan communities that builds on individual success. This must include early childhood intervention, strong K to 12 schools and full supports for mental health and addictions programs across northern Saskatchewan.Additionally, the Government of Saskatchewan must support and encourage Indigenous business development in the north, through government procurement and enhanced education and training opportunities that meet market demand.
- Provide opportunities for high school students to gain work experience and develop essential foundational skills such as literacy, numeracy, communications, and critical thinking by creating connections between employers and schools and by integrating academic disciplines.
- Create provincial policies that support the growth of Indigenous-owned and operated business.
- Create provincial policies that support and encourage the Saskatchewan School Boards Association to continue working collaboratively and cooperatively with Indigenous communities to ensure equal access to education and educational services for all students. This not only includes curriculums and assessment, but also transportation, technology, infrastructure, and professional resource sharing.
- Develop policies and best practices that ensure an increase in hiring and retention of Indigenous peoples in provincial government positions.
- Provide support for research and development in the tech, manufacturing and agricultural sectors as well as processes and products that address global climate change by reducing the provincial carbon footprint, while also serving the needs of Saskatchewan business.
- Continue to implement the Prairie Resilience framework to establish Saskatchewan as a leader in Canada and globally in adaption and mitigation of climate change.