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Wall says $1B federal stimulus would be ‘helpful’ to Saskatchewan, Alberta


Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says a possible $1 billion federal stimulus for infrastructure projects in Saskatchewan and Alberta would be “helpful,” as the two provinces deal with the effects of plummeting oil prices.

Wall told CTV’s Power Play on Wednesday that financial help is welcome.

“We’re in a comparatively better position in the province of Saskatchewan because of the diversity of our economy,” said Wall.

“But that’s not to be cavalier about the issue because there have been layoffs here in the energy sector and the price is certainly hurting the budget and other revenues and there’s spinoff effects. So I’m grateful for the prime minister’s response.”

During the election campaign, the Liberals promised to spend $60-billion over the next decade on infrastructure in an attempt to boost the sluggish economy.

According to a Bloomberg News report on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has decided to initially focus that infrastructure spending in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The report said the government is in talks to shell out $1 billion to the two provinces for infrastructure projects. That money was originally set aside by the previous Conservative government, but not yet delivered to the western provinces, two officials told Bloomberg.

While Wall hasn’t heard any details about the infrastructure funding so far, he said he has been in touch with Regina-Wascana MP Ralph Goodale to discuss infrastructure needs that could provide stimulus to Saskatchewan.

“I’m just pleased with the engagement. We don’t know details so far but we’re very much in discussions with the federal government and the response has been positive,” said Wall.

Effects of N.B. potash mine closure

The closure of Potash Corporation’s Picadilly mine in New Brunswick on Tuesday made for a “difficult day” in Saskatchewan as well, said Wall. He said that the effects of the closure, which eliminated 430 high-paying jobs out east, will also be felt in Saskatchewan, where Potash Corp. is based out of.

“They’ve (New Brunswick) lost careers, not just jobs … But that production, all of it is consolidated to Saskatchewan as a result,” said Wall.

“It does speak to the long-term health of the potash sector in the province of Saskatchewan.”

Saskatchewan is home to about 35 per cent of the world’s potash production. Potash Corp. cited weak global markets for the fertilizer in its decision to the close the mine, saying it has been forced to cut expenses by focusing on lower-cost operations in Saskatchewan.

Trudeau right to sell Canada as more than resource powerhouse

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday, Trudeau pitched Canada as more than just a natural-resource based economy. For instance, Trudeau cited the success of University of Waterloo graduates in Silicon Valley.

“My predecessor (Stephen Harper) wanted you to know Canada for its resources,” said Trudeau. “I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness.”

Wall said Trudeau is right to pitch the Canadian economy as a whole, rather than simply resources.

“It’s a helpful message. It’s our message actually in Saskatchewan,” he said. “I think it’s a good message for the prime minister to communicate at Davos.”

With files from the Canadian Press

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