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Moe puts focus on forestry and economic recovery in State of the Province address

Moe puts focus on forestry and economic recovery in State of the Province address
Premier Scott Moe gives a State of the Province address on Monday in Saskatoon. -- Screen Capture/Facebook.

In a reiteration of recent announcements, Premier Scott Moe used forestry development along with the promised building of a new hospital in Prince Albert to highlight growth and development in Saskatchewan as part of a State of the Province address on Monday.

The re-opening of the pulp mill in 2023, the building of a new OSB mill north of the City along with upgrades in Big River and Carrot River are all part of a historic increase in forestry investment, he said.

“We are on the cusp of what will be the largest expansion of the forestry industry this province has ever seen,” said Moe in a Facebook Live stream of his speech.

In 2020, Saskatchewan produced an all-time record of $1.1 billion in forest products, an increase of 30 per cent and 2021 is shaping up to be an even better year, he stated.

In addition to increases from existing operations, more money is being invested in new or revived businesses which will create 3,000 jobs in addition to the 8,000 jobs it already supports.

The re-opening of the pulp mill by Paper Excellence will add over 1,600 jobs to the Prince Albert community.

Moe also highlighted the high level of indigenous engagement in the industry at 30 per cent, saying it is the highest rate in Canada.

The planned OSB plant by One Sky north of Prince Albert will create another 700 jobs and has investment by multiple indigenous businesses.

“In Saskatchewan we lead the nation when it comes to indigenous engagement,” Moe said. “This is economic reconciliation in action.”

Moe made the speech at a Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce event and focussed much of his words on economic recovery, but also made mention of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government remains opposed to putting restrictions on the whole province when most have decided to be vaccinated, the premier said.

“That large proportion of people who are vaccinated is why we have resisted calls to impose more wide spread restrictions, to impose potentially lockdowns and ultimately business closures because we don’t think it’s right,” Moe said. “We don’t think it’s fair, to impose sweeping restrictions on all of the people when the vast majority of people have went out and done the right thing and have received their vaccine.”

The restrictions are targeted at those who remain unvaccinated.

Moe was introduced at the event by Mayo Schmidt, CEO of Nutrien with both echoing similar comments that Saskatchewan is in a good position to benefit from increased global population and food demand.

Schmidt said that the world grows by a net 93 million people per day and that Saskatchewan has a critical global resource in potash, used as fertilizer in agriculture.

“Premier Moe and I have had a number of discussions on Saskatchewan’s commitment to play a key role in feeding the world,” said Schmidt.

As the world develops and populations increase, so do the number of people leaving poverty and those entering the middle class.
Every second, one person escapes extreme poverty, said Moe, and every second, five people enter the middle class. And those entering the middle class consume more food, especially protein.

“This is Saskatchewan’s opportunity,” the Premier stated.

Moe also talked about “unprecedented” levels of investment in the province, with large agriculture announcements having been made in the Regina and Saskatoon areas.

“This year alone, during what has been a very challenging year, projects over $10 billion have been committed to be invested here in Saskatchewan,” he said.

The government had a goal to have 75 per cent of the canola that is grown in Saskatchewan to be crushed in the province and new announcements in the Regina area have made that a reality.

“We want those jobs in this province,” Moe stated.