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Economy of Saskatchewan


Economy of Saskatchewan

Economy of Saskatchewan
Currency Canadian dollar
GDP C$64,323 million (2008)[1]
C$51,628 million (2007)[1]
C$45,909 million (2006)[2]
C$40,077 million (2004)[3]
GDP per capita
C$40,306 (2004)[3]
Export goods
Cereals, fertilizers, mineral fuels, oilseeds, pulp and paper, meat and meat products, and uranium.[4]
Main export partners
US (C$5,447 million), Japan (C$750 million ), China (C$447 million) 1997[4]

All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

The economy of Saskatchewan has been associated with agriculture resulting in the moniker Bread Basket of Canada[5] and Bread Basket of the World.[6] According to the Government of Saskatchewan, approximately 95% of all items produced in Saskatchewan, depend on the basic resources available within the province. Various grains, livestock, oil and gas, potash, uranium, wood and their spin off industries fuel the economy.[7]

Saskatchewan's GDP in 2008 was approximately C$64.323 billion.[8]


  • Agriculture 1
    • Livestock 1.1
    • Business and markets 1.2
    • Farms and people 1.3
    • Land and crops 1.4
    • Crops 1.5
  • Technology 2
  • Minerals 3
  • Oil and gas 4
  • Forestry 5
  • Fisheries, hunting, trapping and fur farming 6
  • Employment 7
  • Government involvement 8
  • Saskatchewan economists 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The Dominion Lands Act was passed in 1872 to encourage an agricultural settlement for a united British North America.[9] The completion of the train link between eastern Canada through the District of Assiniboia in 1885, the development of the high-yielding and early-maturing Marquis strain of wheat and establishment of an import market in the United Kingdom supplied the first impetus for economic development and supported population settlement.[10]

World War I had a positive impact on Saskatchewan agriculture. The enlistment quota from Saskatchewan to the Canadian Expeditionary Force as the pre-requisite was for British subjects, and several ethnic bloc settlements were immigrants from Europe. There was a need for food production to be maintained, and farmers were exempt from conscription as well. The allies need for wheat production increased, and farm wages doubled. Following the war, the Soldier Settlement Act of 1917 established service men with agricultural land.[11]

Saskatchewan's population peaked in 1936 at 931,200 persons.[4][9] The Great Depression combined the 1929 stock market crash with the drought years of the 1930s causing devastating effects on the economy of Saskatchewan. The per capita income between 1928 and 1933 dropped 72%. The drought years of 1928, 1931 through 1934 and again in 1937 hit hard following the recession and the lowered demand for wheat exports. The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration PFRA established a work relief program developing community pastures, water and irrigation projects.[12] Approximately 250,000 people left the provinces during the era of the Dirty Thirties when Saskatchewan became a virtual dust bowl.[13] World War II also held Saskatchewan's economy back, as overseas markets for wheat were virtually eliminated.[14]

Saskatchewan agricultural land comprises 44% of the total Canadian farmland.[10] Excluding a semi-arid area of the southwest used for grazing the parkland and mixed prairie areas of the province are used for crop production, mixed farming and dairying. Grain farming dominates the parkland area. Saskatchewan usually produces about 54% of Canada's wheat.[15] The vast extensions of unbroken plain are well-suited to large-scale mechanized farming. Wheat is the most familiar crop but other grains like canola, alfalfa, barley flax, mustard, vegetable farms, forage seed, potatoes rapeseed, rye, oats, peas, lentils, canary seed, and barley are also grown.[4] Specialty crop production sown in 1981 amounted to 136,000 to 2,474,000 hectares (340,000 to 6,110,000 acres) in 2001.[16] The farm and agricultural component is still a significant part of the economy the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (SWP), has been "the world's largest grain-handling co-operative".[17] The SWP, now named Vittera, is no longer the major industrial component provincially ranking eighth largest.[18]

Meat processing is the largest industry here, followed by dairy production, breweries, and the subsidiary industry of agricultural implements.[19] Saskatchewan still has cattle ranching along the southwestern corner of the province. Mixed grain farming, dairy farms, mixed livestock and grazing lands dot the central lowlands region of this prairie province.[20] Beef cattle production in the province is only exceeded by Alberta. Agricultural data for Saskatchewan has been collected since 1906.[21] Saskatchewan has 41% of Canada's agricultural land, with an estimated 44,329 farms in 2006, generating a net farm income $CAN697.3 million in 2007.[22]


Since 1996 and 2001 census showed that livestock numbers have increased to record levels cattle: up by 4.4%, pigs by 26.4%, and sheep by 46%.[21] Beef cow numbers rose to 15.6 million head nationally. Saskatchewan had approximately 20% of the national herd with Alberta dominating at 43%.[21] There were just more than 13.6% less dairy cows since 1996. There was an even bigger decline of 29.2% in the number of farms with dairy cows.[21]

At the turn of the century, the early 1900s saw settlers who needed to import their butter. By the roaring twenties dairy production in Saskatchewan not only filled domestic needs, but Saskatchewan dairy farmers were able to export to Britain.

The numbers of large animals for 2001 were:

  1. Cattle and calves (2.9 million)
  2. Sheep and lambs (149,000)
  3. Pigs (1.1 million)
  4. Other animals (184,000)

The province also supported a large poultry industry with 9.7 million birds.

Diversification in livestock production has seen sheep, and lamb, goat, rabbit, and fox farms, and exotic animals such as bison, deer, elk and llama farms.[4] Specialised livestock may include ratites which would be ostrich, emu, and rhea farms.[22]

Business and markets

The total market value of Saskatchewan's farms estimated in 2001 was $33,463,911,487 in 2001 compared to the amount of $196,868,929,481 for all of Canada.[21]

Farms and people

In 1996, the average farm size in Saskatchewan was 1,152 acres (5 km2). As the farm population continued to declined, in 1996 only 14% of the Province's population lived on a farm.[21]

Number of farmers
2001 1996 1991
Saskatchewan 50,598 56,995 60,840[21]
Canada 246,923 276,548 280,043

Most farms were grain and oilseed, however, the trend is to diversify with speciality crops and animals.[21]

Land and crops

There were 44,329 farms in Saskatchewan as of May 15, 2006.[23]
Durum wheat crop
Of these farms, 15.7% were cropped as wheat and 57.3% were typed as oilseed crops.[23] The Crop Development Centre (CDC), established in 1971, helped establish the pulse industry in Saskatchewan.[24] Oilseeds, pulses and speciality crops continued to increase as farmers diversified their crop production.[24]


The 2006 census shows 44,329 farms, which declined in the last five years by 12.6%. According to the 2001 census the number of farms in Saskatchewan (50, 598) declined by 11.2% from the amounts reported from the prior census in 1996. Farms were fewer by 24.8% a decade ago (1991). In 1936, about seven decades ago the highest census for farms occurred and the number was 142,391.

Saskatchewan accounts for 20% of all Canadian farmers and has the largest farms with an average farm size of 1283 acres (up from 1,152 acres (5 km2) in the last census). The province had nearly 40% of the agricultural land in Canada, nearly 13 million acres (53,000 km²) more than second-place Alberta.

About 64.9 million acres (263,000 km²) of the province is farmland. Thirty-eight million acres (154,000 km²) were cropped in 2001.

Distribution of farmland:

  1. Cropped: 38 million acres (154,000 km²)
  2. Summer fallow: 7.7 million acres (31,000 km²)
  3. Tame (seeded) pasture: 3.5 million acres (14,000 km²)
  4. Natural pasture: 12.7 million acres (51,000 km²)
  5. Other: 3.0 million acres (12,000 km²)

Spring wheat still dominated the prairie landscape, though the crop is losing ground to oilseeds and specialty crops.

The five major crops in 2001 were:

  1. Spring wheat (10.7 million acres)
  2. Barley (4.7 million acres)
  3. Durum wheat (4.6 million acres)
  4. Canola (4.3 million acres)
  5. Alfalfa/alfalfa mixtures (2.8 million acres)

Farm cash receipts
Farm cash receipts accumulated to C$6,643,622 in 2006, and C$6,490,850 thousand in 2001.[25] Wheat accounted for 26% of the total and cattle 19% in 2001. In 2006, there were 25.4% less wheat farms which amounted to 6,938, and a 6% increase in cattle farms amounting to 12,249 in 2006.[26] The 2001 census reported that canola was the most significant crop after wheat and the pulse percentage and speciality crops were increasing. Dairy making continued in decline, while hog production was increasing. Whereas the 2006 census showed a rise in beef cattle, chicken egg production, broiler production, poultry hatcheries, combination poultry and egg production, apiculture, horse, livestock combination, soybean, oilseed, fruit, and nursery and tree production.[26]

Saskatchewan (GPD) (2002)
In 2002, agriculture, fishing, and hunting accumulated for 6% of the Province's $28.1 billion GPD. The importance of agriculture however lay in the provinces exports. Without exports Saskatchewan would have the economy of a third world country. More than 73% of the GPD came from exports of goods and services.

Agriculture-food exports
Saskatchewan exported $4,152.2 million of agriculture and food products in 2000 making 32% of the total exports ($12,950.6 million). Agriculture and food products were a declining majority as a contributor to exports (i.e. in 1997 over 50% of exports were agricultural). The USA, Japan, EU, and China dominated the list for 50% of their agriculture-food exports. The USA alone accounted for 23%.


The two Innovation Place Research Parks immediately adjacent to Regina and Saskatoon Universities host several science and technology companies which conduct research activities in conjunction with University departments. Given Saskatchewan's booming economy[27] and recent change of government,[28] the shape of higher education in the province may be changing. Modern diversification has meant that now agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting together make up only 6.8% of the province's GDP. Not until the 1970s did the economy begin to shift from agri-based to industrial-based activity, although agriculture continues to dominate the economy of the city and province. Saskatchewan predominates as the largest producer of biofuels. Ethanol, biodiesel, and biogas are produced from canola, barley, and wheat.[22]

A third innovation place research park has earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) award at the Prince Albert location named Forest Centre. The three parks contribute approximately $592 million to the provincial economy annually.[29]


Mining is also a major industry in the province, with Saskatchewan being the world leader in potash and uranium exports.[30] Saskatchewan is rich in minerals. Oil and natural gas found beneath the prairie, prove to be one of the province's most important minerals. The area north of Lake Athabaska has been exploited for ores yielding uranium. In 1995 Saskatchewan uranium amounted to 30% of world uranium reserves.[4] The Paleoproterozoic greenstone belt around Flin Flon, in the northeast, is mined for copper, gold, and zinc.[31] In the southwest and Estevan area, coal has been mined since 1880.[31] In the early twentieth century lignite coal for power and heating was Saskatchewan's chief mineral. Clay products and ceramics were viewed as the next valuable resource in the early twentieth century.[32] Potash mining began in the 1950s[5] near Saskatoon and Esterhazy, and Canada is currently a leading producer of the mineral. The majority of the province's industries process raw materials. The world's largest publicly traded uranium company, Cameco, and the world's largest potash producer, PotashCorp, have corporate headquarters in Saskatoon. Nearly two-thirds of the world's recoverable potash reserves are located in central Saskatchewan.[33] Saskatchewan "has an estimated 75% of the world’s potash reserves"[10] kaolin, sodium sulphite and bentonite contribute to Saskatchewan's economy.

Potash mining for fertilizer
Preliminary Estimate of the Mineral Production of SK 2006
Metallic minerals
Copper 1,242 tonnes
Copper 9,601 $'000
Gold 1,505 kilograms
Gold 32,706 $'000
Selenium 3 tonnes
Selenium 172 $'000
Silver 119 $'000
Tellurium 28 $'000
Uranium (U) 9,781 tonnes
Uranium (U) 1,430,463 $'000
Zinc 541 tonnes
Zinc 1,901 $'000
TOTAL (metallic minerals) 1,474,990 $'000
Non-metallic minerals
Salt 1,132 kilotonnes
Salt 47,456 $'000
Sand and gravel (3), (5) 9,446 kilotonnes
Sand and gravel 37,071 $'000
Sulphur, elemental 165 kilotonnes
Sulphur, elemental 2,327 $'000
TOTAL (non-metallic minerals) x $'000
Fuels (6)
Coal 10,441 kilotonnes

[34] [35]

Oil and gas

Oil and natural gas production is also a very important part of Saskatchewan's economy, producing more oil than gas. Only Alberta exceeds the province in overall oil production.[36] The first oil well was drilled as early as 1874 at Fort Pelly.[31] Heavy crude is extracted in the Lloydminster-Kerrobert-Kindersley areas. Light crude is found in the Kindersley-Swift Current areas as well as the Weyburn-Estevan fields. Natural gas is found almost entirely in the western part of Saskatchewan, from the Primrose Lake area through Lloydminster, Unity, Kindersley, Leader, and around Maple Creek areas.[37] Saskatchewan supplies about 10% of Canadian oil reserves and 25% of the nation's natural gas reserves.[4]


In the northern part of the province, forestry is significant. North of the treeline in Saskatchewan are 350,000 square kilometres (140,000 sq mi) of forests which provide resources for the Saskatchewan forestry industry.[15] The forestry industry comprises lumber and sodium sulphate for pulp and paper resources.[38]

Fisheries, hunting, trapping and fur farming

The historic process of fur trapping is still practiced. The Saskatchewan annual production from fisheries, fur farming and trapping rank below the forestry sector in provincial economy.[14]


A list of the top 100 companies includes The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Federated Cooperatives Ltd. and IPSCO. Major Saskatchewan-based Crown corporations are Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), SaskTel, SaskEnergy (the province's main supplier of natural gas), and SaskPower. Bombardier runs the NATO Flying Training Centre at 15 Wing, near Moose Jaw. Bombardier was awarded a long-term contract in the late 1990s for $2.8 billion from the federal government for the purchase of military aircraft and the running of the training facility.

Government involvement

Legislation regarding environmental concerns and the economy of Saskatchewan are regulated by Saskatchewan Environment.[39]

Saskatchewan economists

Dr. Merril Menzies wrote his doctoral thesis on the grain trade in Canada becoming Prime Minister Diefenbaker's assistant and economic advisor.[40]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Gross domestic product, expenditure-based, by province and territory".  
  2. ^ "Saskatchewan Provincial Economic Accounts" (pdf). Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  3. ^ a b "Saskatchewan Bureau of Statistics" (pdf). Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Fung, Ka-iu (1989). Wilson, Michael; Barry, Bill, eds. Atlas of Saskatchewan (Celebrating the Millennium Edition ed.). Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: University of Saskatchewan. pp. 211–279.  
  5. ^ a b Giannetta, J. "SASKATCHEWAN economy (oil and gas, mining, farming, forestry, food processing, dams and reservoirs, electricity)". Sask web pages. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  6. ^ "Immigration to Canada: Saskatchewan". Abrams & Krochak - Canadian Immigration Lawyers. 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  7. ^ "Saskatchewan's Economy -". About Saskatchewan/Economy. Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  8. ^ "Gross domestic product, expenditure-based, by province and territory".  
  9. ^ a b The New Pioneers" Saskatchewan: The History of Agriculture""" (PDF). Saskatchewan Agrivision Corporation Inc. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  10. ^ a b c Phillips, Peter (2006). "Economy of Saskatchewan". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  11. ^ Champ, Joan (December 16, 2002). "The Impact of the First World War on Saskatchewan’s Farm Families" (pdf). Western Development Museum 2005 "Winning the Prairie Gamble" exhibits. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  12. ^ Dean, William G.; Geoffrey J. Matthews; Byron Moldofsky (1998). Concise historical atlas of Canada (illustrated ed.). University of Toronto Press,. pp. 61–62.  
  13. ^ Mooney, Elizabeth (2006). "Great Depression". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  14. ^ a b "Economy". The Canadian Encyclopedia > Provinces & Territories > Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  15. ^ a b "Education Canada Network / Canada Facts / Saskatchewan". Education Canada Network. 1996–2008. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  16. ^ Carlyle, WJ (2004). "The Rise of Specialty Crops in Saskatchewan, 1981-2001". Questia Media America. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  17. ^ "Regina: Economy and Labour Force". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  18. ^ "Sask. Wheat Pool to become Viterra?". CBC. August 29, 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  19. ^ "History of Agriculture in the Prairie Provinces". Archives of the Agricultural Experience. University of Manitoba Archives Special Collections, the Libraries. 1998. Retrieved 2007-04-10. 
  20. ^ "Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame". communications inc. 2006. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h "Agriculture census". Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  22. ^ a b c "Summary of Agriculture in Saskatchewan - Agriculture". Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  23. ^ a b "Farm Agriculture". About Agriculture/Statistics/Farms/Type of Farm. Government of Saskatchewan. 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  24. ^ a b Holm, Frederick A. (2006). "Crop Development Centre (CDC)". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  25. ^ "Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food: Stats Handbook". Government of Saskatchewan. Agricultural Statistics Database Agriculture Statistics. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  26. ^ a b "Type of Farm - Agriculture" (pdf). Census Stat Fact - Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food. Government of Saskatchewan. 2007-05-22. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  27. ^ Friesen, Joe (September 17, 2007). "Sizzling economy creating a Saskaboom.". CBC News. Globe & Mail. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  28. ^ "Saskatchewan Party wins majority government". CBC News. 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  29. ^ "Prince Albert - Innovation Place". Innovation Place. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  30. ^ "Fact Sheet". Saskatchewan Mining Association. May 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  31. ^ a b c "Mineral Resources". About Saskatchewan/Economy/Mineral Resources. Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  32. ^ Department of Highways (Digitized online by J. Adamson). "Natural Resources". 1926 Highway Map: Province of Saskatchewan. Online Historical Map Digitizaton Project. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  33. ^ "City of Saskatoon Quick Facts". City of  
  34. ^ "Preliminary estimate of the mineral production of Canada, by province, 2007". Minerals and Mining Statistics On-Line - Mineral Production of Canada, by Province and Territory. Natural Resources Canada, Government of Canada. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  35. ^ "Production_e.asp". Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  36. ^ "Oil and Gas Industry". About Saskatchewan/Economy/Oil and Gas Industry. Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  37. ^ "The Saskatchewan Oil and Gas InfoMap". About Energy and Resources/Our Oil & Gas Resources/InfoMap. Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  38. ^ Adamson, J; Department of Highways (14 Oct 2003). "1926 Highway Map: Province of Saskatchewan". Online Historical Map Digitization Project. Retrieved 2009-01-16.  []URL accessed April 6, 2007
  39. ^ Bowden, Marie-Ann (2006). "Environmental Protection Legislation". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  40. ^ Bothwell, Robert; Ian M. Drummond; John English (1989). Canada Since 1945: Power, Politics, and Provincialism (Digitized online by Google books) (2, revised, illustrated ed.). Mercedes. p. 186.  

External links

  • Overview of the Saskatchewan Economy Government of Saskatchewan
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