Author Archives: prosperitysaskatchewan
December 6, 2013
NEW JOB NUMBERS SHOW A STRONG AND DIVERSIFIED SASKATCHEWAN ECONOMY
Saskatchewan continues to enjoy strong job growth and the lowest unemployment rate in Canada as thousands of new jobs are being created in a number of different sectors.
The November Labour Force Report released today by Statistics Canada shows employment is up by 12,300 compared to November 2012 while Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate is just 4.1 per cent – the lowest in Canada for the eleventh consecutive month.
Saskatchewan’s year-over-year employment growth of 2.3 per cent is second highest in Canada, behind only Alberta. Manitoba and BC both lost jobs over the same period.
Economy Minister Bill Boyd said new jobs are being created in a number of different areas.
These include (year-over-year employment increases):
- Transportation and warehousing: 6,800
- Professional, scientific and technical services: 3,600
- Manufacturing: 1,600
- Agriculture: 1,400
“This shows Saskatchewan has a strong and diversified economy,” Boyd said. “Even when there are job losses in one sector, they are more than offset by the new jobs that are being created in other areas.”
Other highlights of today’s report include:
- The youth unemployment in the province – 6.1 per cent – is also the lowest among provinces and less than half the national rate (13.4 per cent).
- Regina continues to have the lowest unemployment rate among major cities at 3.9 per cent and Saskatoon the third lowest at 4.2 per cent.
- Aboriginal employment is up 2,800 in the past year while unemployment is down from 11.6 per cent to 10.7 per cent.
Boyd noted that as of this morning, there are still more than 12,000 positions to be filled listed on saskjobs.ca, including more than 4,000 in trades, transport and construction.
“One of the challenges of a growing province is that fact that we have a labour shortage in some areas,” Boyd said. “Our government is working to identify those areas and create more training opportunities for those areas.”
For more information, contact:
According to Statistics Canada this morning:
Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate in November was 4.1% – for the 11th consecutive month Saskatchewan has had the lowest in unemployment rate in Canada (national rate is 6.9%)
12,300 more people working in November 2013 than in November 2012
Potash Corp. to Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall: Our dividend ‘is not sacrosanct’
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Dec. 06 2013, 7:39 AM EST
Last updated Friday, Dec. 06 2013, 8:29 AM EST
Sacred dividend The dispute between the province of Saskatchewan and Potash Corp. is a case study in the relationship between a government and a region’s corporate powerhouse.
To recap, Potash Corp. announced plans this week to slash 18 per cent of its work force, a move that will cost 440 jobs as the agriculture giant cuts costs and curtails some production.
The company’s statement contained all the usual language in such announcements, about how difficult the decision was, the harsh impact on the communities and how it’s working hard to help people through the painful, challenging times.
What really got Premier Brad Wall’s goat, and prompted him to write to Potash chairman Dallas Howe, was chief executive officer Bill Doyle’s comment that the company’s dividend is sacrosanct.
“I understand that PotashCorp’s board of directors and CEO need to look after the best interests of your shareholders,” the premier wrote.
“So do I. My shareholders are the people of Saskatchewan, who also happen to own the potash resource.”
According to the premier, Mr. Doyle phoned him later in the day to “state his regret” over what he’d said, though what would be done remained unclear.
Mr. Wall then asked the company to “revisit” its dividend in hopes of scaling back the number of layoffs.
The premier, remember, helped shelter Potash, mounting a spirited defence against a hostile takeover attempt by BHP Billiton Ltd. several years ago.
In a response to the premier late yesterday, the Potash chairman put up his own spirited defence, saying the board takes Mr. Wall’s plea seriously, but that it doesn’t work that way.
“The numbers of employees who will be impacted is not connected in any way to the amount of the company’s dividend,” said the chairman.
“If we reduced our dividend to zero, we still need to right-size our operations in order to protect the long-term sustainability of our company – and all of the remaining jobs.”
Mr. Howe ran through the troubles of the industry, and his company in particular, citing the fact that a work force of just 1,600 churned out more than 8 million tonnes of potash in Saskatchewan in 2007. In 2012 and 2013, Mr. Howe said, that production is nearer 7 million tonnes a year, but with a work force of 2,600 built up on expectations of stronger demand.
“In terms of the dividend itself, let me clarify that we believe it is important to regularly return cash to investors in our company,” the chairman said.
“Our shareholders provide us the capital to run and grow our business – enabling the benefits that flow to our employees, communities and other stakeholders. We believe our dividend is important in ensuring we optimize our cost of capital.”
And, he noted, shareholders have “shared the burden” amid a plunge in the company’s stock price of some 35 per cent from its 52-week high to the levels of today.
“These shareholders rely both on the value of the shares and on the stability of our dividend,” he added.
“This depreciation in share value is a real and material sacrifice for them. Our shareholders clearly have shared in the pain even if we have not added to that pain by also denying them their dividends.”
The company indeed has a long history there, most recently boosting its quarterly dividend to 35 cents from 28 cents in mid-May, the fifth hike since 2011, with Mr. Doyle boasting that “with a cumulative dividend increase of 950 per cent in just over two years, the board and management team remain committed to enhancing returns for our long-term shareholders.”
Still, as Mr. Howe told Mr. Wall last night, “I want to be clear that the dividend is not sacrosanct.”