The Saskatchewan Miracle: Income Impacts

Recently a delegation from the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference was in New Brunswick and I got a chance to sit down with them to discuss economic, demographic and social trends in the province.   During that discussion, the delegate from Saskatchewan made a heartfelt speech about the dramatic economic changes in her home province and how this has changed not only the economy but how people feel about their communities and their province.  She said places like New Brunswick should look to Saskatchewan as an example of the possibilities.

My column this week in the Economy Lab will discuss this.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the following three graphs tell the tale.  Employment income growth – per person claiming employment income on their tax form – was the highest in Saskatchewan from 2000 to 2010 – double the national growth rate.

Another sign of the new wealth has been the rise in declared investment income (again from tax returns).  In Sask, the total amount rose by 93% over the decade.  Interesting to note that total investment income in New Brunswick grew slower than any other province over the decade.

It is interesting to note that social assistance recipients declined by 11.5% in Saskatchewan from 2000 to 2010 but the amount per person collecting grew by 61%.  It’s hard to say with 100% certainty based only on this data but it sure looks like the provincial government has  turned some of the proceeds of the economic success into its social safety net.


8 thoughts on “The Saskatchewan Miracle: Income Impacts

  1. Are these numbers the growth of the respective median incomes, or mean (average) incomes?

    Also interesting to note the juxtaposition of perceived “ideology” of party in power with the graph on social assistance income growth. It’s not the ranking that would immediately spring to mind.

  2. From this specific Stats Can table, all I can get is average (total employment income over total persons reporting employment income). I’m not up to speed on local politics in SK.

  3. Wow, yes, stop the presses. It appears that having more money makes people feel better! Keep in mind that this is GROWTH, meaning, just how bad was Saskatchewan BEFORE all the growth.

    And again, here we are talking about averages, which means, if one tenth the population has a HUGE growth spurt, then that skewers the data. However, no doubt about it, the money you have, the more you can spend-I don’t think we need Saskatchewan or ANYBODY to tell us that!

    But for fun later, I’ll check the SK census data and see if there is anything by community. But really, this falls into the “if we win the lottery we will be much better off” category. Or do you REALLY think that there is tons of oil under NB that nobody can find?

  4. Forgot to add, remember that Saskatchewan’s oil refinery is a CO OP, not owned by one single family who siphons their money into the carribean. That means that just because you have lots more investment, it depends on the structure of that investment. As for economy, what is Saskatchewan…two cities? One of which is one of the only places that has seen increased federal funding for its research.

    I remember doing a study between the two refineries and the differences were quite palpable. I don’t think people in NB still know just how many people at that refinery Irving flies in from all over the world to work. I really can’t say more about that because it was so long ago, but I think just saying “private fiefdom” and “co-op” should give you a clue to the kinds of differences between the two.

    And other factors play a role as well, people have more money, which means they have more money for INSURANCE, which is public in Saskatchewan. In NB, well, take a look at your insurance cheque and see where it is going-probably ontario, quebec, or the US. In Saskatchewan all that money goes to the PROVINCE to help run its health care.

    So if you are going to compare the two, its actually a bit irresponsible to NOT get into details, because really, if you have no oil, what can you get out of this?

    Actually, let’s look closer, by all means lets take the Saskatchewan example and nationalize the oil refinery, and make insurance public! As for oil and gas, well, nobody can FIND any oil, and even the companies looking for gas stopped doing it because it wasn’t viable. So yes, lets look at the public policy initiatives of Saskatchewan-having a new viable political party would be another one. And at least ONE of the repercussions of a co op, I seem to recall, is much more stringent environmental and labour standards.

  5. “Did the Saskatchewan delegation explain how to put oil in the ground”

    Yes, they have energy resources and aren’t afraid to use them. In NB, by contrast, we cannot even agree to look for gas reserves. Simply looking for the resource is perceived as a threat to our ‘pristine’ environment. SK is exploiting its resources and obtaining benefits in wealth and job creation. Meanwhile we cannot even agree to determine if our gas reserves are worth exploiting. That is a critical difference between us and them.

  6. Uh Richard, I think you need to read up on public policy. People protesting means nothing. Companies WERE looking for gas reserves. And after testing, one company pulled out and said there was nothing there worth ‘exploiting’. And this year the OTHER company said gas isn’t even worth testing for-so they ARE looking for oil-regardless of protest.

    And there IS protest in Saskatchewan, but unlike NB, they actually have organized systems of discussion, so on the public television station there are often stories, and the numerous think tanks like the Parkland Institute and Canadian Centre for policy Alternatives have frequent stories in the press. New Brunswick has NONE of those, only has corporate media, and a government which, as a gas engineer posted a couple of days ago, can’t even figure out how to manage the lumber industry even though its over a millenium old.

    And lets be real. NB HAS resources, and hasn’t managed them particularly well. Are you wealthy from all the forests? All the peat moss? All the potash? No? Then why would you think that if only there were yet another resource to manage badly there would suddenly be all kinds of wealth for everybody?

  7. Oh yeah, and fisheries. Except for potash those are all industries that SK lacks. How well are those working out?

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