Saskatchewan’s Official Opposition says the province’s low population growth rate is preparing it for a “bleak future.”
Saskatchewan has the lowest annual growth rate in the country, rising just 0.36% last year, according to the latest demographic report provincial statistics office based on provincial population estimates from Statistics Canada.
“You’re not in first place if the only thing you’re first in is last place,” NDP Immigration Critic Aleana Young said during Question Period on Tuesday.
Preliminary data suggests that in the fourth quarter of 2021, 2,690 people moved to Saskatchewan, while 4,072 people left the province.
According to the report, about 42% of people who left Saskatchewan moved to Alberta.
The government’s growth plan says it has a population target of 1.4 million people by 2030, but Young said she’s ‘worked the numbers’ and the government is close to achieve this goal by 2068. Saskatchewan’s population was 1,183,269 on January 1. .
Young added that Prince Edward Island, which has a population of about 166,000, added more people (4,817) last year than Saskatchewan (4,298).
“It’s not really fun to be the slowest growing province in the country, is it? It sets us up for a bleak future,” Young said.
Jeremy Harrison, Minister of Trade and Export Development, responded by saying the province has grown by leaps and bounds since the NDP took office.
The province’s population has grown by 170,000 in the 15 years the Saskatchewan Party has been in government, Harrison said.
“We’ve seen a rate of population growth in this province over the last decade and a half…that we haven’t seen since the 1920s,” Harrison said.
“It’s because this government put in place policies that allowed newcomers to enter the province, both from outside Canada and relocate from within Canada, and find opportunities.”
Harrison added that 30,000 jobs have been created in the past year, exports have increased by 35% and there has been more than $14 billion in new investment.