Sask. eyes nuclear reactors, international offices, major tech investment in growth plan

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Sask. eyes nuclear reactors, international offices, major tech investment in growth plan
WATCH ABOVE: Saskatchewan's premier lays out his blueprint for the next decade – Nov 14, 2019

The Saskatchewan government is eyeing small modular nuclear reactors, its own international trade offices and SaskFirst tax incentives as hallmarks of their 2030 growth strategy.

Prior to delivering the throne speech, Premier Scott Moe voiced two ambitious growth targets for the next decade: a population of 1.4 million people and 100,000 more people working by 2030.

To reach that target, Saskatchewan will need to add about 230,000 more people in the next ten years, a population growth rate the province has not seen in recent history.

For economic growth, the province is putting a heavy focus on increasing the value in export markets. To achieve this, the government plans on opening its own trade and investment offices in Japan, India and Singapore.

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More international trade missions and “premier-led” trade missions to the United States are also in the plan.

This desire to expand Saskatchewan’s presence in international markets was referenced by the premier Tuesday when discussing his goal of expanding provincial autonomy.

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Other items in the Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan appear to signal other areas the province looks to expand its sovereignty.

This includes a desire to “eliminate federal tax and regulatory measures that introduce new burdens and reduce the competitiveness of Saskatchewan and Canadian business.” The plan does not name any specific federal barriers.

On the immigration file, one goal is to “assert provincial control over the [Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program] (SINP).”

The province also plans on developing a new entrepreneurship category under the SINP for international students looking to start businesses in Saskatchewan following graduation — another measure to boost population growth.

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In an effort to create more jobs, the province wants to triple the size of Saskatchewan’s technology sector by 2030.

Part of this plan includes a SaskFirst New Growth Tax Incentive for agricultural tech companies. Another SaskFirst tax incentive will be offered to encourage investment in the chemical fertilizer sector.

Environment Minister Dustin Duncan has previously considered the idea of expanding power production to include small modular reactors (SMR).

This growth plan reaffirms that interest — committing to working with Ontario and New Brunswick to research and evaluate this technology’s viability. Saskatchewan also has large uranium deposits, another economic option for the provincial coffers.

The government seems optimistic about SMR’s saying they could potentially replace coal and natural gas baseload power, giving SaskPower the ability to generate up to 80 per cent of the province’s electricity without emissions.

The plan notes the first SMR in the province could be operational by the early to mid-2030s, so not an immediate addition to the power grid.

Other goals for 2030 highlighted by the province include:

  • Reducing surgical wait times to a three-month target;
  • Growing agri-food exports by to $20 billion;
  • Building and/or upgrading 10,000 kilometres of highways;
  • Increasing oil production to 600,000 barrels per day;
  • $2.5 billion in community revenue sharing;
  • Keeping the budget balanced;
  • Growing Indigenous participation in the economy by growing natural resource industries like mining and forestry;
  • $9 billion in potash sales.

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