Monday, November 15, 2010

They Just Don't Get It

Source: CBC News: Sask. Goes National with $2M Campaign

Well, here we are back to the old format after my last long-winded essay format. Should the mood strike me, you could very well see another one of those treatise-like posts on this blog. But for now, let's get back to some of the issues at hand.

So, whilst on my daily surfing of the news websites I happened across this article. Effectively, to sum it down, it talks about a recent campaign instituted by the Wall Government to advertise Saskatchewan to other parts of Canada. It makes the argument about what a great place Saskatchewan is to live, and compares some statistics (such as unemployment level) between our province and the rest of Canada.

I will fully agree, Saskatchewan is a great place to live. But, that being said, there's a few things the Wall Government has kept out of this advertisement of theirs.

In their drive to recruit foreign, be it Canadian or otherwise, workers to our province the Wall Government is showing a great deal of short-sightedness. For the past couple of years, Regina has held vacancy rates for rents around or under 1%. I don't have a statistic for Saskatoon's numbers, but I'd imagine that we're not much better off.

(For more information on Regina's vacancy rate, and to prove that I just didn't pull a number out of the air, please visit this link: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

On top of that, Saskatoon and Regina both experienced increases in rental rates. Regina saw rental rates increase by 7.1% while Saskatoon had increases of 5.3%. Despite the dwindling number of vacancies, and the staggering increase in rental cost, the Wall Government has been mostly silent on this issue.

They have not proposed any ideas that would bring rental rates under control, and ensure that the people of Saskatchewan are being charged fairly for the condition of the unit they call home. On top of that, they have done nothing to help those who have been unable to find a place at all to call home. There has been no push to build affordable housing and no push to increase the overall number of homes within Saskatchewan.

Obviously, this is a problem. If Saskatchewan is facing a housing crisis now, how will it fare when more people flock to our province?

The answer, of course, is not encouraging. Given the Wall Government's inclination to favour the free market (unless of course public opinion is sharply opposed and news becomes leaked that a deal would cost Saskatchewan $3 billion dollars) the housing crisis would only get worse. With fewer units, the demand for housing in Saskatchewan would increase. This demand would result in one of two things:

1.) Either the people coming here, are semi-professionals who can either afford to purchase a home or build one in the town or city of their choosing; which of course has little impact on those already without homes.

2.) The people coming here are skilled labourers, but not well enough off to build a new home or indeed purchase a home; as such, the demand for rental units increases. This increase in demand dictates that landlords will react accordingly and increase rent on the units they control, regardless of the state of said unit, knowing that if the current occupant cannot pay, there are dozens of people willing to take their place.

You can see how this becomes a problem.

Of course, there are more problems with a massive influx of new residents to our province. The Wall Government talks about how Saskatchewan's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in Canada; and how we're beating the national average. But, the Wall Government doesn't mention the true statistics behind these numbers.

Saskatchewan has been losing skilled-jobs; also known as the high-paying, benefit driven jobs. While we've been gaining part-time jobs, which often force people to work outside of their trained vocations and also rarely come with benefits such as prescription, dental, and vision coverage.

I have said many times before on this blog that the future of Saskatchewan's industry does not rest within the service industry. I do not mean to belittle or cast judgment on those types of jobs, however. They do play a vital role in employing people across our province, and they also provide to our economic health, but a province cannot be based on a service based economy alone.

Saskatchewan cannot afford to lose those skilled-jobs, the so called 'jobs of tomorrow', that focus on innovation and infrastructure. That impact our province in more ways than just economically, but socially and scientifically. And the Wall Government seems to be trying to have it's cake and eat it too.

These commercials seem geared to drawing these skilled workers to our province, while leaving out the fact that many of the Saskatchewan people trained in these vocations are unable to find work in their field here, and are instead forced to rely on a full-time or part-time job outside of their field.

After all, the Wall Government seems only to attract skilled workers when they woo them from other provinces with a job already lined up for them that will pay up to six-figures a year...And of course, it's always coincidental when those lined up workers turn into Saskatchewan Party candidates a few months later, but we won't dwell to long on that...

The fact of the matter is, that the Wall Government seems to be believing their own PR machine rather than understanding the reality of our situation.

Saskatchewan is a great place to live, there's no denying that, but we have underlying issues that affect current residents of our province that the Wall Government has ignored since their election. And bringing more people into Saskatchewan in a vain attempt to foster their own political image, is only going to have a further negative impact on these problems.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to share Saskatchewan with the rest of Canada, but we need to make sure that we can take care of those who come here to share in our province. And the best way to do that, is to make sure we fix the problems that exist for those who already live here.

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