In calling for 'nation within a nation,' Sask.'s Scott Moe aims to emulate Quebec's policy control

When explaining his "nation within a nation" comment this week, Premier Scott Moe signalled he wants his province to get the same policy control that Quebec has over immigration and child care.

Premier says Sask. wants Quebec-style control over immigration policy, child care funding

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, right, says he is looking for the same level of control over immigration and child care policies that Premier François Legault, left, has in Quebec. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

When explaining his "nation within a nation" comment this week, Premier Scott Moe signalled he wants his province to get the same policy control that Quebec has over immigration and child care.

In the last two years, Moe has pushed for increased control over immigration, extending the province's international presence and, more recently, greater control over child care funding from Ottawa.

Those are areas in which Saskatchewan would be increasing autonomy and aiming to "flex our provincial muscles," Moe said earlier this week.

Last month's throne speech indicated Moe's government wants to "build a stronger, more independent Saskatchewan within Confederation."

On Tuesday afternoon, the premier said he is "not talking about separation. We are talking about being a Saskatchewan cultural identity within the nation of Canada — but being a nation within a nation."

The Opposition NDP accused Moe of trying to create a distraction from his Saskatchewan Party government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked by reporters what makes Saskatchewan a "nation," Moe said language was not the "only indicator of culture."

After his comment, Moe did not demand the province be identified as a nation based on culture or history. He did not explain how Indigenous people or the treaties fit into his idea of a Saskatchewan "nation."

Rather, Moe's focus was on areas he wants Saskatchewan to have more influence over its "destiny" through various policies, including immigration and child care spending.


The government's growth plan calls for Saskatchewan to add 225,000 people to its population, to reach 1.4 million by 2030.

This would need to be accomplished through increased immigration.

In December 2019, Moe said he wanted Saskatchewan to have "a larger role in the selection and the criteria in our immigration policy."

At that time he said he wanted the same deal Quebec has — a demand he repeated this week.

"Quebec has a very different agreement when it comes to immigration with the federal government than we do here in the province of Saskatchewan. We want that agreement," Moe said Tuesday.

The Canada-Quebec Accord was signed in 1991, giving the province the ability "to preserve its demographic importance in Canada, and to ensure the integration of immigrants in Quebec in a manner that respects the distinct identity of Quebec."

The province can select immigrants based on economic needs, or on family reunification and humanitarian reasons. The government of Canada determines which immigrants are approved.

The other Canadian provinces, including Saskatchewan, have provincial nominee programs, with "streams" that target certain groups of immigrants.

In 2019, Moe said he wanted the province to have more control over the economic immigration class, but would also like some control over the family class.

Child care

Moe also says Quebec's child care deal with Ottawa is one Saskatchewan needs.

"We saw … most recently with the child care agreement — Quebec has a very different agreement than any of the other provinces in Canada. And we want that as well," he said Tuesday.

In August, Saskatchewan joined several other provinces in signing child care funding agreements with Ottawa.

The province will get nearly $1.1 billion in federal funding over the next five years is also slated to create 28,000 spaces.

The aim is to ensure that by 2025-26, child care is available in Saskatchewan at an average of $10 a day for children under six.

Days before Saskatchewan signed its deal, Quebec came to an agreement with Ottawa as well.

Premier François Legault said his province spends $2.7 billion annually on child care and the average cost is $8.50 a day per child.

Legault said the deal his government signed with Ottawa was "asymmetric,'' meaning that while the federal government imposed certain conditions on the money it gave to other provinces for child care, Quebec has no such conditions.

In April, Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said she wanted the province to have the "flexibility" to decide where to spend the child care funding from Ottawa.

Listen to the Nov. 12 update with The Morning Edition's political panel:


Adam Hunter


Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for more than 14 years. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him:

With files from The Canadian Press


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