October 10, 2005

Saskatchewan's economic plan features sustainability commitment

Diversification and sustainable development of Saskatchewan's natural resources are part of the province's new economic plan, introduced September 21 Premier Lorne Calvert and Industry and Resources Minister Eric Cline. The Saskatchewan Action Plan for the Economy: A New Century of Opportunity responds to public input received during a Centennial Summit in January and contains 81 actions, both current and planned, to encourage economic growth.

Cline noted that key actions in the plan build on Saskatchewan's energy strengths by giving continued priority to development of new enhanced oil recovery techniques, providing a competitive tax regime, expanding alternate energy sources and exploring new sources such as hydrogen. "We will also be developing a new energy policy that reflects environmental considerations while taking full advantage of the economic opportunity that a broader energy base offers," he said.

The action plan has four main thrusts:

* expanding and building on Saskatchewan's natural strengths;

* extending the province's successes in research and innovation;

* enhancing and promoting Saskatchewan's competitive advantages; and

* broadening the provincial economy, workforce and jobs.

As part of its plan, the government intends to work with its partners in research and industry to develop new enhanced oil recovery techniques, develop polygeneration capacity (i.e. the ability to produce several energy products such as electricity or steam simultaneously from a single fuel), create a provincial hydrogen strategy, and support further development of hydrogen fuel technology. It will also work with industry to encourage the production of ethanol, biofuels and biodiesel from varous crops and organic wastes, and has committed to expanding windpower beyond 175 megawatts of capacity as opportunities permit.

Sustainable development of Saskatchewan's forest resources is also an important part of the economic plan. The government has pledged to reduce the environmental impact of forestry activities by attracting new businesses to process wood residuals such as sawdust and shavings in an industrial process or in energy creation projects.

Diversification within the agricultural sector is another theme of the plan: the government will support the development of new bio-products and value-added opportunities for the organic, biodiesel and other related industries.

The plan acknowledges the strides Saskatchewan has made in research and development, and advocates further growth, for example by establishing innovation "incubation" centres and increasing promotion of research facilities such as the Greenhouse Gas Technology Centre and Communities of Tomorrow.

The province intends to extend its success in research and innovation, linking these to its resource and manufacturing sectors and building a green, sustainable economy. Specific commitments include:

* implementing a Green Strategy linking environmental sustainability and economic growth through initiatives and approaches such as promotion of alternative energy sources, environmental regulatory reform, increased recycling and innovative waste management methods;

* supporting research in alternative energy development, climate change and conservation;

* expanding energy conservation activities throughout Saskatchewan;

* promoting emerging technologies for sustainable community development; and

* developing incentives to encourage business development and growth in green technologies.

The Saskatchewan Action Plan for the Economy: A New Century of Opportunity may be viewed on-line at www.ir.gov.sk.ca/actionplan. More information is also available from Bob Ellis at Industry and Resources, 306/787-1691.

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