Average weekly earnings in Saskatchewan were up 2.7 per cent year-over-year in December 2017, the second highest percentage increase among the provinces and ahead of the national increase of 2.3 per cent.
Month-to-month, Saskatchewan led the country in growth with an increase of 1.6 per cent, above the national increase of 0.2 per cent.
“This is good news, not only for our economy, but for the hard working men and women in our province,” Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “Strong growth in weekly earnings is important and will help retain and attract workers to Saskatchewan.”
December’s average weekly earnings were $1,033.57, third highest in the nation and above the national average of $992.87.
Industries with the highest year-over-year earnings growth rate were management of companies and enterprises (+20.9 per cent), accommodation and food services (+9.5 per cent) and construction (+7.8 per cent).
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Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate was 5.4 per cent (seasonally adjusted) in January – tied for the second lowest rate among the provinces and below the national rate of 5.9 per cent according to Statistics Canada.
There were 560,100 people employed, 1,500 more jobs compared to January 2017, including an increase of 4,900 full-time jobs.
Employment in Saskatchewan was up 1,100 from the previous month (0.2 per cent), the highest percentage increase among the provinces (seasonally adjusted). There were 6,200 full-time jobs created month-over-month.
“This is definitely a positive indicator that Saskatchewan’s economy is on the rebound,” Minister of Immigration and Career Training Jeremy Harrison said. “With our unemployment rate being second lowest in the nation and employment up, in addition to recent good news on building permits and urban housing starts, 2018 is looking to be a good year for our province.”
Major year-over-year gains were reported for accommodation and food services up 2,300; public administration up 2,000; business, building and other support services up 1,700.
Premier Scott Moe announced immediate mid-school year funding of $7.5 million that will be provided to school divisions to assist in dealing with front line pressures.
The funding will allow school divisions to hire education professionals immediately. This funding comes earlier than committed and will increase to $30 million directed to hiring 400 in-school education professionals and other school board priorities once annualized in the 2018-19 budget.
“Over the last several months, I have heard from parents and educators that additional funding is essential to ensure that our children receive the highest quality education possible,” Premier Moe said. “This $7.5 million in immediate funding will put essential classroom supports in place before we introduce the full amount of $30 million in the 2018-19 budget.”
“I fundamentally believe that not a wheel turns in our economy without quality education and that societies that prosper and succeed are those that invest in education,” Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant said. “Premier Moe and I are committed to ensuring Saskatchewan students have the supports they need to succeed and today’s announcement is just the beginning of a renewed and respectful relationship with our teachers and education partners.”
“Saskatchewan’s school boards greatly appreciate increased funding to support the students in our province’s education system,” President of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) Dr. Shawn Davidson said. “We hope this announcement signals that the 2018-19 provincial budget will provide the restored and renewed investment that is critically needed in school division operating budgets.”
The funding will be distributed through the Ministry of Education by way of the current education funding formula using the components that directly provide supports for the classroom. The Ministry will work closely with school divisions to ensure the mid-school year funding increase is distributed as quickly as possible.
Saskatchewan residents will soon benefit from lower prices on generic drugs. A new national generic drug initiative will result in $6 million in savings in the first year and up to $50 million in savings over the next five years for the Saskatchewan Drug Plan.
Savings for patients and employers are expected to match or exceed those achieved by the provincial government.
Through the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA), provinces and territories have developed a new initiative with the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) to significantly reduce the price of some of Canada’s most commonly prescribed generic drugs.
“We know medicine is expensive, and our government is committed to providing Saskatchewan residents with the best value for the important drugs they rely on,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said. “In addition to benefitting the public, it benefits the province as well. The savings we realize will help our public drug plan provide coverage for new and innovative drugs, and increase the plan’s sustainability.”
As of April 1, 2018, the prices of nearly 70 generic drugs will be reduced by 25 to 40 per cent, resulting in overall discounts of up to 90 per cent off the price of their brand-name equivalents. Generic drugs included in the initiative are used to treat a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression.
The initiative also includes a commitment from generic drug manufacturers to continue bringing new generic drugs to the Canadian market and ensure a stable supply of generic drugs across the country.
Saskatchewan served as a co-lead, along with British Columbia and Ontario, in developing this initiative. For more information about the generic drugs covered by this initiative, visit http://formulary.drugplan.ehealthsask.ca/PanCanadian.aspx.