March 8, 2009

Saskatchewan featured on CNN: "Saskatchewan a jobs 'hot spot' in Canada"/"Thousands of jobs open if you don't mind moose."

Except for Obama's trip to Canada last month, it has been a long time since I saw a major story about Canada in mainstream American news. But just the other day, of all the places in Canada, CNN released a story on the front page of its website about Saskatchewan. Perhaps best known for being the first province to have Medicare (the informal name used to refer to Canada's publicly funded health insurance program) or the birthplace of the NDP, Saskatchewan is also well known for being ignored by central Canada.

Unfortunately, I honestly can't remember many times
before coming to University I gave much thought to Saskatchewan except when naming all of the Canadian provinces. But now I'm proud to say I have friends the Prairies and can spell Saskatchewan correctly, and so I was happily surprised to see this story:

Saskatchewan a jobs 'hot spot' in Canada

  • Story Highlights
  • Saskatchewan projected to lead Canada in economic growth in 2009
  • Province helped by infrastructure investment, oil production
  • Premier: We are "a story of success" that wants to help those struggling
  • Relocation services business sees more people looking to move to province
By Mallory Simon

(CNN) -- Normally, "hot spot" isn't the first phrase that comes to mind when talking about Saskatchewan, Canada.

But with most of Canada suffering from devastating job losses, this cold province is becoming exactly that.

It's an asterisk to the entire country when it comes to the economic climate, and Premier Brad Wall is shouting it as loud as he can.

"It's a great time to come to Saskatchewan," said Wall, who even called the Toronto Star newspaper to tout his province's economic success and let Ontarians know there were jobs for the taking.

"For those who are losing their jobs, we need them to know we have thousands of jobs open right now in both the private and public sector," Wall said. "We have a powerful story to tell, a story of success and that's something we want to share with those who are struggling."

Wall's province is one of the exceptions to the unemployment increases battering provinces across Canada. Saskatchewan's unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in January from 4.2 percent in December, making it the only province recording a decline. In Ontario and the city of Toronto, unemployment rates rose to 7.2 percent and 8.5 percent respectively. To the west, British Columbia shed 68,000 full-time jobs in January.

More Saskatchewan jobs should be on the way. To stave off any possible recession, Wall announced a $500 million infrastructure "booster shot" to help keep the economy strong. Learn more about different towns in Saskatchewan »

"All across the country, industries are getting quite ill," Wall said. "We aren't immune to it. We see some impacts in terms of layoffs and new vehicle purchases slowing off, and so we want to be proactive in staying ahead of the curve."

On Tuesday, the Conference Board of Canada released a report that said Saskatchewan will likely continue to lead the nation in economic growth in 2009 because of the infrastructure investment and tax reductions.

The province has also been reaping the benefits of an influx from nearby Alberta. When the government in Alberta decided to raise the oil royalty rates, oil exploration and expedition companies decided to move their operations to Saskatchewan in hopes of making more money.

With the province's growing opportunities, David Montgomery, president of Calgary's Qwest Haven Relocation Services, said he is moving more people to Saskatchewan each day.

"Alberta has always been the gravy train of oil," said Montgomery, who is also a former resident of Regina, the capitol and second-largest city in Saskatchewan. "But with the new royalties, oil companies are saying 'Why stay here and make less when the opportunities right next door are even better?' Many other companies may start to follow suit."

Montgomery said people looking to move have said that cheaper land and insurance prices are among the other reasons they are headed to Saskatchewan.

"There, government insurance is cheaper than anywhere else in the country and it comes with your license plates," he said. "With the amount of jobs, cheaper opportunities and great way of life, the government there has made it very attractive to move there."

That means more business for Wall's province and more jobs coming to the area.

Not that there's a shortage of jobs. On Tuesday night there were nearly 6,000 private- and public-sector jobs on the Web site

A constant stream of revenue from oil production and exports also buoys the economy in the province.

Saskatchewan falls just behind Alberta, as the largest oil exporter in Canada, and Wall's province sends more oil to the United States than Kuwait. Wall said the province is the leader in uranium production and produces a third of the world's potash.

The province continues to keep ahead of the curve, Wall said, finding ways to diversify its resources and embark on ambitious green projects and new oil projects. The province is working with Montana on a $212 million climate change initiative that would create the first major greenhouse gas storage project in North America. The carbon dioxide from coal-fueled power plants would be stored in the ground in Montana and later be withdrawn for use in oil production.

Wall also said what may be the largest discovery of sweet, light crude oil in the southeast part of the province means it could have even more oil to work with. The Bakken Formation could potentially have 413 billion barrels of oil, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That would be another huge untapped revenue gold mine.

Despite the growth of nearly all sectors across the board, Wall cautioned that it is possible his province may see economic stress, just later in the game than other places.

"We need to be circumspect and prudent about promoting our province," he said. "We are not immune; we do see the impacts. It isn't some sort of panacea or answer to economic questions that don't exist elsewhere. We are a bit of an asterisk that says there is some stress, but it's relatively calm here."

Wall encouraged people not to count out a move to the province based on stereotypes that it is "only winter here," and "all of the land is just rolling hills."

"'It's a beautiful, big place where life is great and right now there's also opportunity," he said. "I'm very, very biased, but I can't imagine a place I'd rather be, especially with what's going on economically around the world."

To give you an idea of how uncommon it is to have a major front page story on a major American news source about the Prairies, at least 30 Canadian news sources ran articles about CNN's article in the past week.

Many of them were reprints of this story from Canwest news service:

CNN takes notice of Saskatchewan's hot economy

Cassandra Kyle
Saskatchewan News Network

Saskatchewan's renewed popularity may be old news in Canada, but in the United States, word about the province's economic boom is causing a stir.

An article written by a journalist about the number of jobs available in Saskatchewan became the most viewed and second-most emailed story on the media giant's website Wednesday. By 5 p.m. local time, the story had accrued 926,403 page views, according to internal CNN data. The website, which averaged 36.4 million unique visitors per month in 2008, attracted readers to the article with headlines including "Frigid Saskatchewan a jobs ‘hot spot,'" and "Thousands of jobs open if you don't mind moose."

The story's author, Mallory Simon, thinks the article on Saskatchewan's economic success is so popular because it's full of a rare commodity: Good news.

"We've been doing a lot of stories on the economy and a lot about people losing their jobs and it seems like there's bad news every day, so we were really trying to find if there was anywhere that there was good news," Simon said in a telephone interview from CNN's headquarters in Atlanta, Ga.

"A lot of people are looking for hope right now, they're looking for places that have this glimmer of hope, and it seemed like this was really a great opportunity to showcase a story where the government was doing as much as they could to put money into the economy."

Simon quoted Premier Brad Wall boasting about the local economy as well as the president of a Calgary, Alta.-based moving company who told her more and more people are moving to Saskatchewan every day. The story also references a Conference Board of Canada report released Tuesday that forecasts the province to lead the nation in GDP growth in 2009 as well as the number of jobs currently posted on - more than 5,700.

Saskatchewan's resource sector was also featured in the article, with Simon mentioning the province's oil, gas, uranium and potash reserves.

"Saskatchewan is the largest producer of oil in Canada and exports more oil to the United States than Kuwait. It is the leader in uranium production and produces a third of the world's potash," she wrote.

According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources, the province is the second-largest oil producer in Canada behind Alberta.

Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris could barely contain himself over the CNN story, describing Wall variously as "one of the top ambassadors in Canada," "a champion" and "the best premier going."

"Saskatchewan's message is obviously spreading right across the country and right around the world. It's a message of optimism. We know we're not immune from what's going around us but at the same time on a relative scale we're as well-positioned as any jurisdiction to continue our growth," he said.

Meanwhile, Kent Smith-Windsor, executive director of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, said "it's very cool," to be on The chamber is comfortable with the attention the province, and its largest city, is getting from the online report.

"We genuinely have hope in a way (that) too little of the developed world has right now, and that makes it extraordinarily newsworthy," Smith-Windsor said.

Simon believes the article shows that despite the recession, there are still places where the economic mood remains upbeat.

If you get one person who doesn't have a job that considers it, if one more person decides that they want to move there that's great," she said. "If we can give people the option to just look, whether they find something or not, that's what we're trying to do."


  1. It's nice to see at least one part of Canada being immune to the recession. Of course the oil industry helps greatly but by that logic, Alberta should be doing even better. Lots of advantages go to Medicare, such an amazing idea and it should be implemented in more areas. I hope Saskatchewan keeps their good numbers in this crisis and will profit from it. It's a beautiful place by the way.

    Take care, Julie

  2. The best place for freelance projects is freelancing sites. Freelancing sites are the best option for part time home based business and freelance jobs. There are many types of work available at freelancing sites