Councillor Swanson Wants City to Engage in Less "Rah Rah", More Reality

Robert Thomas

A little less boosterism and a lot more reality is what Councillor Brian Swanson would like to see on the part of the City when it comes to the Provincial Government and the number of employees they have in Moose Jaw.

He made his comments in light of a recent report delivered to the Economic Development Commission which looked into the employment numbers in the Province. The report showed decreasing numbers of provincial employees in relation to other centres while the Province was employing more people.

Coun Swanson was highly concerned about Sask Polytechnic employment numbers which according to the report is at its lowest number since statistics were  available in 1995.
Presently, there are 272 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions at the Moose Jaw Palliser campus. The highest FTE numbers reported for Moose Jaw was 320.29 in 1999. FTE is defined in the report as full time employment for 12 months a year.

"Years ago SIAST was looking to set up a new headquarters with 13 jobs and everybody: Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw bid on it. We knew it was going to there are 118 jobs in Saskatoon...if we just sit on the sidelines and go rah rah this is what we get." Coun Swanson stated.

He went on to highlight things such as the impending loss of 200 jobs at the Valleyview Centre as being harmful to the community because they are higher paying jobs.

"Every year it gets darker. It's easy to move jobs out of Moose Jaw when we're too busy cheerleading how great it is here," Coun Swanson stated.

Mayor Frasier Tolmie did not agree with Coun Swanson.

"Not being proud of our community and not being proud this is a great place to do business is the wrong strategy," Mayor Tolmie told Executive Committee.

Where Coun Swanson saw doom and gloom regarding the pending closure of the Valleyview Centre, the Mayor saw opportunity.

Many of the former Valleyview residents are relocating to group homes in the city which has had economic spin offs he said.

An example of a spin off is in the past the Valleyview Centre ordered food from a central distributor, now they buy food locally spending money in the community he stated.

"With the new (group) homes in Moose Jaw it's expanding the local economy...the numbers are not encouraging and there is another perspective on this," Mayor Tolmie stated.
Highlights of the report are as follows:

  • The loss of 14.5 FTEs in each of the past two years at Sask Polytechnic Palliser (Moose Jaw) Campus.
  • Capital expenditures were up 1.2 percent at Palliser Campus with 23 percent of total Sask Polytechnic expenditures there but it is lower than compared to 2001 when 29 percent of capital expenditures were in Moose Jaw.
  • Percentage wise, the Sask Water Security Corporation maintains 46.93 percent of its employees at its Moose Jaw head office.
  • There were 88.25 FTE positions in 2017 down slightly from 90.5 in 2016. The all-time top employment number wise was 2013 when there were 97.3 FTE positions in the city.

SaskTel closing its call centre in Moose Jaw has seen a dramatic drop in employees locally.
In 2017 there were 42 FTE positions here down from 62 FTEs in 2016.

Overall though, the stats showed a trend of employment steadily decreasing at SaskTel in the last 18 years. There are now 3039 SaskTel employees province-wide.

The Valleyview Centre saw the continual decline in employment as in 2012 it announced its closure. Valleyview quit accepting new residents in 2002.

Since its announced closure in 2012, Valleyview employment fell from 335 FTEs to 228 FTEs in 2017.

Overall, the number of people employed in the provincial public service, including the Valleyview Centre and the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, has fallen by 40 FTEs in 2015 to 2016 and a further 29 FTEs in 2017.

In 2017 Moose Jaw led the way percentage-wise provincially in lost positions with the Province at 5.3 percent.