Even pessimists are finding it difficult to produce a Saskatchewan economic statistic that is negative. Investment is at record levels, the population is growing faster than the national average and consumers are showing no signs of flagging confidence.
For many years the Canadian province described as the easiest to draw but hardest to pronounce was something of an economic laggard. Often characterized as the gap – that space between the Winnipeg and Calgary airports – the once sleepy province is now an economic dynamo.
The big drivers in the Saskatchewan economic story are to be found in the resource sector. First it was oil and gas powered by the dual engines of growing global demand driving prices higher and a faux pas in Alberta where tinkering with the royalty regime sent industry players scurrying for new plays. Saskatchewan’s Bakken project, located southeast of Regina, turned out to be the winning suitor for these new players.
Then came potash. An emerging middle class in China and India, a huge population base with rapidly rising disposable income levels, provided an additional catalyst. One of the first things the nouveau riche seeks is an enriched diet. Growing demand for protein prompted farmers globally to increase their output. Saskatchewan, of course, has plenty of farmers so this development lifted the agricultural sector. But farmers everywhere also wanted more fertilizer to feed the Pacific Rim’s new consumers and potash came into its own.
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