Canada's Saskatchewan faces enviable problem: too many jobs

Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:35pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

(Reuters) - As much of the world grapples with stubbornly high unemployment and overwhelming debt, the Western Canadian province of Saskatchewan is facing an enviable problem -- it has more jobs than it can fill.

"There's a bit of irony here frankly," Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in an interview from Saskatoon, the province's largest city. "Our challenge, even up to five years ago, was we were losing people because there weren't the opportunities here.

"Now it's reversed, but not reversed enough. We need more (people)."

Saskatchewan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4.7 percent is second-lowest among Canada's 10 provinces after Alberta, and well below the national average of 7.4 percent in September.

The resource-rich province, with 1.1 million residents, is creating so many jobs the government recruited from Ireland earlier this year.

On Tuesday, Wall unveiled his Saskatchewan Party government's long-term plan, which aims to increase the population by another 100,000 by 2020, cut debt, and hire more immigrant workers.

Training programs for trades and aboriginal residents would also develop more workers.

The province intends to continue balancing its budget, while most Canadian provinces are struggling to reduce their fiscal deficits. It also means to cut long-term debt by C$400 million to C$3.4 billion by 2017.   Continued...