Foreign Immigration Key To Population Growth In Saskatchewan

canadian work visa

Broadway bridge and Saskatoon skyline at night, Saskatchewan. / Jay Van Doornum

Hundreds of miles away from the bright lights of Canada’s biggest cities, immigration is spurring the growth in Canada’s prairie provinces.

Recent statistics reveal that the sparsely populated province of Saskatchewan saw its population grow by 5,000 people in the first quarter of 2014, and more than 3,000 of those individuals were immigrants from other countries. Saskatchewan’s growth mirrors that of its energy-rich neighbor, Alberta, where a booming natural resources sector has meant the hiring of thousands of foreign workers.

Though not growing at quite the rapid pace of Alberta, Saskatchewan is also undergoing an economic boom and as a result is also in need of a considerable number of foreign workers.

Bill Boyd, Saskatchewan’s Economy Minister, is predicting that his province will require as many as 75,000-80,000 more workers to fill the expected positions that will emerge as a result of fast-paced economic growth.

Boyd predicted that Saskatchewan’s thriving economy will continue to prosper for some time, and that his province will grow from its current population of 1.12 million to over 1.2 million in the near future.

“As a result of that, there will continue to be job growth in our province,” Boyd said.

Still, even though Saskatchewan’s economy is relatively healthy, it is also next door to its larger neighbor, Alberta, the booming oil-rich province and home to the renowned oil tar sands. As a result, both provinces are in competition in attracting migration from both within, and outside, of Canada.

In the first quarter of 2014, 5,700 Canadian residents moved to Saskatchewan, while 4,900 moved away. A majority of those who chose to leave the province moved next door, to Alberta, with 2,650 people moving to that province.

With both Western provinces benefiting from booming natural resource sectors, Saskatchewan’s population growth in the first quarter of the year was second only to that of Alberta’s; during the first quarter, Saskatchewan experienced growth of 0.46 percent, while Alberta’s population grew by 71 percent.

The recent trend of foreign migration to the more rural sections of Western Canada—primarily as a result of the thousands of jobs generated by the booming energy sector—is a considerable departure from the historical migration trends in Canada. Until recent years, most foreign migration to Canada was directed to the nation’s urban centers—primarily Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, Canada’s three largest cities.