Saskatchewan has a resource-based economy.
That seems like an obvious statement given that in 2018 Saskatchewan exported $13.4 billion and $16.3 billion of agri-food and minerals (oil, potash, uranium, etc.) respectively relative to a total of $82.5 billion of GDP. Combined, that is a large portion of Saskatchewan’s total economic output.
However, even these large numbers fail to accurately capture the degree to which these industries pervade our cities, communities, and ways of life. Their impact and importance go beyond headline economic numbers and can be seen in supply chains, community donations, and knock-on economic effects.
For every mining company extracting potash or oil from Saskatchewan’s earth or growing crops in its soil there exists a supply chain that helps to manufacture the machinery used in extraction and transport goods to markets. These supply chains increase the overall footprint of the industry beyond those working in a mine or on a farm. That means increased economic activity and increased employment, which further spins into personal and corporate service industries.
To see this in full effect, let’s go back to the numbers. Manufacturing, an industry largely supported by the needs of resource industries, shipped a total of $17.9 billion in goods in 2018. Retail trade, which is buoyed by increased employment and higher salaries in other industries like those in resources, did $19.5 billion worth of business in the same time period. These numbers don’t include the value of work in service industries that support both the companies and employees in the resource industries.
This is not the limit of the impact of resource companies on our communities. Nutrien, for instance—a company that bridges the gap between agri-food and mining – contributes a massive amount of money to communities in Saskatchewan annually to support everything from education to entertainment. Other companies support local sports teams, charity initiatives, and public infrastructure. This money supports more jobs in even more industries as well as the general public good.
These acts of giving back are often done without thanks or without public realization. It isn’t until these industries hit headwinds and have to be more careful stewards of their own resources that people realize the value that these companies are contributing. When the sponsorships and giving give way to the reality of business in tough times, the community truly feels the loss and sees the value that these businesses and business owners bring to the table.
Canada’s resource-based industries face issues regarding transportation of goods to market. These resource industries, largely located in Alberta and Saskatchewan, put grain farmers in competition with oil producers to get their respective goods to port. They also face issues with approval processes for new infrastructure that destroy certainty for proponents (such as Bill C-69) and government policy that is deaf to the reality of the business.
In order to survive these obstacles, these industries need your proactive support. Call your MLA or MP and tell them how Canada’s resource-based industries support your community. Encourage them to create policy that allows these businesses to prosper and continue to be a staple of our economy and communities.
After all, the value of these industries to our communities goes far beyond dollars and cents.