Why Saskatchewan leads the way for small business

Photo: Pexels-Tim Mossholder

As the world appears ready to crawl out from under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, the job market story across the country seems to be having a negative impact with 80,000 more job vacancies in 2021 than pre-pandemic levels. That translates to just under one million jobs (915,000) left open as Generation Z, baby boomers and millennials decided to give entrepreneurship a try.

If small business seems to be your path to greener pastures and a sustainable career, you need to look no further than Saskatchewan, and here’s why.

Economic diversity

Saskatchewan has long been thought of as ‘the breadbasket of the world’, nearly a third of Saskatchewan’s economic development has been in agriculture. However, with an ever-changing economic landscape globally, several industries encompass what is a monumental shift toward economic diversity. Between 2016 and 2020, the percentage of individuals in a non-agricultural small business ranged between 68 and 70 per cent compared to one third of those in agricultural related business. Nineteen per cent of the small businesses in the province operate in the financial, insurance and real estate industries. And with energy being all-important in the face of higher gas prices, at the midpoint of 2022, just under two percent of small businesses are associated with the alternative energy sector.

Roads and rail

The ongoing pandemic led to supply chain problems, with a bottleneck caused by delays, blockades, and other factors. With an almost $2 billion investment from the federal government’s National Trade Corridors Fund (NCTF), the guarantee of transportation from point A to point B is critical. An investment from all sectors, including private companies, ensured the growth of the Global Transportation Hub (GTH) built near Regina.

In addition, the provincial government has committed to the improvement of the 10,000 kilometres of highway and roads by 2030. This bodes well for the provinces 2,400 trucking companies responsible for moving the almost $77 million in GDP reported in 2021.


In a four-year span, between 2017 and 2021, the percentage of women pursuing a post-secondary education in Saskatchewan has increased from 54 per cent in 2018 to last year’s high of 61 per cent. There has been an increase on the male side as well, from admissions of 34 per cent in 2017 to 40 per cent last year. In addition, provincial initiatives such as the Provincial Training Allowance (PTA) or the recently introduced Education and Training initiative (ETI) provides training to lower income individuals looking to supplement their income with an acquired skillset.

Saskatchewan boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at a shade over six per cent. The province is also home of one of the most productive labour forces with an average of $82.80 output per hour worked in 2020. This increases to $105 when food production is factored in.

Increased identity on a global scale

Saskatchewan exported over $16 billion in agri-food products in 2020. The expansive trade and export market has made the province of Saskatchewan a hot commodity with not just interprovincial, but national and ynternational connections from all over the globe.

Innovation Ecosystem

The province of Saskatchewan is thinking fully forward with regards to its future in terms of innovation. Protein Industries Canada, headquartered in Regina, looks toward using Saskatchewan’s known commodities, such as pulses and canola, toward R&D and developing new products. With such resources as the Saskatchewan Food Development Centre, the Global Institute for Food Security and Ag-West Bio at its disposal, the province has an edge in helping to develop innovative and creative new technologies. In addition, the University of Saskatchewan, a leader in agriculture and biotechnology, and the University of Regina, leaders in petroleum research and carbon capture, are paving the way for future generations to thrive.

Saskatchewan: Not the last straw