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The Booming Province of Saskatchewan

21 October 2012

There’s been a lot of talk about the unemployment rate in Canada lately, after Statistics Canada released their latest stats last week. And while Calgary has come out shining in all categories, including the lowest unemployment rate in the country and a housing market that’s positively booming, there’s one province that’s not far behind. That province is Saskatchewan.

Being the butt of several jokes (watch just one episode of Corner Gas and you’re likely to hear dozens) for the past several years as the flat, uninteresting province with little opportunity, Saskatchewan now has a huge opportunity to snub their noses at the rest of us. Because within all that wheat and canola, Saskatchewan has been building the past several years, and now they have more opportunity than they do people to take them up on it.

Saskatchewan is currently enjoying a low unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent. That’s second in the country to Alberta’s just slightly higher 4.4 per cent. So why the sudden change? Why has the province that you can see from end to the other suddenly become such a bustling region?

It hasn’t actually been all that sudden.

When the recession hit in 2008, there was a spike in commodity prices – and many of those commodities were the wheat and canola resources that were abundant in Saskatchewan. This huge increase in demand gave Saskatchewan the boost it needed in other resources (i.e. cash) to further develop their oil and mining industries. Now the province has done just that, and combined with a growing population for the past six years, this is a huge difference from what the country is used to seeing from “the land of living skies.”

But it’s this very boom that has also caused a problem for Saskatchewan.

“There’s a bit of irony here frankly,” says Premier Brad Wall. “Our challenge, even up to five years ago, was we were losing people because there weren’t opportunities here. Now it’s reversed, but not reversed enough. We need more people.”

Including the huge abundance of resources in the province, there are also currently 1.1 million people living in the province. But as the Premier says, it’s just not enough. Saskatchewan is seeing such a huge problem in a lack of people in fact, that the government recruited individuals from Ireland early this year to fill positions.

What do you think? Do you live in Saskatchewan? If so, have you noticed the boom that’s been going on the past few years? If you don’t live in Saskatchewan, do these latest reports have you thinking about moving there? Unfortunately for those trying to entice people to the province, they may have a hard time getting Canadians to move from their current province, as new World Bank stats showed early last week.

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