More training, manufacturing centre up next in Saskatchewan growth plan

REGINA – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says training and manufacturing are up next in the province’s growth plan.

In a speech to the Regina Chamber of Commerce, Wall said 1,000 new training seats will be created in the coming year, including 300 new apprenticeship spots and 700 new spots for the Adult Basic Education program.

Wall said 27 per cent of those classes are delivered on reserve.

“We’re not going to have a jurisdictional fight with the feds about this,” Wall said Thursday.

“We don’t have time for it and frankly, there’s just an imperative for young aboriginal people who want to be involved in this Saskatchewan, so we’re going on reserve with that effort.”

The growth plan unveiled last fall called for the elimination of the wait list for Adult Basic Education programs by the end of the government’s current term.

Wall said didn’t have specific numbers, but estimated there are well over 1,500 people still on the wait list.

“I think we’re going to be able to close in on it within the next two or three years because we’ll have made real progress with this 700 on…the waiting list that’s there,” he said.

The province also plans to work with its manufacturing industry to create a centre to help increase productivity, innovation and skills training.

The premier said specific details will come in the budget next March, but that anything could be manufactured.

“Anything where we’re adding any value at all, the answer to that is yes,” said Wall.

“I understand the manufacturing council is not sort of limited to short-line manufactures — that’s our strength in the province. Certainly, I think we have the best farm implement, or short-line farm implement manufacturing economy in the country, but it’s not limited to that. We’re doing other kinds of things as well.”

A decision to reduce the corporate business tax rate to 10 per cent from 12 per cent is also back on the table.

The growth plan update says the province will look at the decision again to see if it’s affordable in the next budget.

The government promised in October 2012 to cut the corporate income tax rate by 2015. The move was intended to bring Saskatchewan’s rate in line with those in Alberta and British Columbia, although B.C. has since increased its corporate income tax rate to 11 per cent.

Saskatchewan postponed the cut in the March 2013 budget. Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said at the time that the province couldn’t afford to give up the $175 million the tax generates.

The growth plan update comes less than a week before the throne speech that will open the fall sitting of the legislature on Wednesday.