The Great Wall Ties Chairman Calvert’s Five-Year Plan

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released my policy brief (PDF) on Saskatchewan employment growth. It generated front-page coverage in today’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post business sections as well as this snazzy online infographic. The press release follows:

Premier Wall’s Employment Record Lags Calvert and Blakeney

Regina – A new policy brief from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Saskatchewan Office, The Great Wall Ties Chairman Calvert’s Five-Year Plan: Employment Growth in the New Saskatchewan, challenges the provincial government’s spin regarding job creation.

“Many of the Saskatchewan Party government’s much-vaunted employment records reflect seasonal fluctuations,” notes author Erin Weir, an economist with the United Steelworkers union. “The underlying rate of workforce growth has been almost identical during the premierships of Brad Wall and Lorne Calvert.”

The policy brief compares the years before and since Wall became Premier using both raw and seasonally adjusted figures from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey and Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours. It also examines Allan Blakeney’s premiership, the only comparable period of high commodity prices.

“Employment growth under Wall has been slightly slower than under Calvert and much slower than under Blakeney,” observes Weir. “Employment grew faster than the province’s working-age population under NDP governments but has barely kept pace under the Saskatchewan Party.”

The Calvert and Wall governments both cut resource royalties as resource prices rose. By contrast, Blakeney collected more of the windfall from high commodity prices through royalties and reinvested the proceeds in more labour-intensive provincial infrastructure and services.

“Giving away provincial resources through royalty concessions is probably not the most effective way to create jobs,” concludes Weir. “The Blakeney record suggests that collecting a greater royalty return to fund public investment could do more to bolster the job market and provide other social benefits.”

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