Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saskatchewan on recruitment blitz to fill jobs. by Michael McKiernan, National Post

Saskatchewan is backing up its Ontario recruitment drive with a cash inducement of $20,000.
The money will be available to university and college graduates who relocate to the province for at least seven years.
Next week a delegation led by Premier Brad Wall will descend on Toronto, where he will announce further details of the incentive program.
A group of about 25 politicians and business leaders from Saskatchewan, including Pat Fiacco, the Mayor of Regina, will try to sell their province and fill vacant jobs at a series of events on March 31 and April 1.
"It's fair to say there is no area where we aren't looking for people. In the financial sector, health care, construction, in engineering, anything you can think of," said Mr. Fiacco. "The growth in our province has been huge and we still need more people." Saskjobs.ca, a Web site run by the province's career and employment services department, lists more than 6,000 jobs currently available.
The visit comes hot on the heels of last week's tax-cutting surplus budget announcement in the province.
Finance Minister Rod Gantefoer bucked the national downward trend, projecting a surplus of $424.5-million for 2009-10 despite a 12% increase in government spending. Revenue from Saskatchewan's rich supply of natural resources has fueled the economic boom in the last few years.
While oil and gas revenues have taken a hit in the recent downturn, potash has filled the void. The province produces a third of the world's supply of the mineral, which is used to make fertilizer.
Donald Atchison, the Mayor of Saskatoon said he would play up the affordability of life in his city when he makes the trip next week. The average price of homes sold in his city in February was $281,681, $80,000 less than in Toronto, but the Mayor also emphasized that commutes of more than 15 minutes are rare in Saskatoon.
"I hear all the time from people who came out for two years for university or a job relocation and they've ended up staying for a lifetime," he said.
But the challenge of getting people to head west in the first place remains. The province, with a population of about one million, spent about $800,000 on recruitment efforts last year, including a similar mission to Toronto as recently as September, 2008.
Mr. Wall held a reception at the legislature in Regina earlier this month to welcome 86 new families who moved from Ontario since that campaign, but Mr. Atchison hopes the extra cash can tip the balance for those whom he failed to convince last time.
"I think people from Saskatchewan are too humble. They aren't vocal enough about what a great place this is to live. But now the rest of the world is beginning to find out. I think the Premier is doing a great job of promoting us," he said.
In Regina, Mr. Fiacco acknowledges Torontonians may fear losing the amenities of a big city, but he puts that down to ignorance, citing museums, a symphony and theatres he argues are cheaper to attend than in Toronto.