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Saskatoon business owner not surprised by recession

Watch above: Residents in Saskatchewan say word that the country is in a recession isn’t surprising and certainly isn’t going to hold them back. Joel Senick says the business experts are already predicting growth for the latter portion of 2015.

SASKATOON – The president of a Saskatoon-based construction company says he’s not surprised Canada slipped into a recession during the first half of 2015.

“We had eleven staff in January and we’ve turned down and now we’re down to about three,” said Gerald Audit, president of Impact Construction. He says he noticed a downturn in business months ago.

“It was hard to land jobs and pricing was changing really fast so we had to adapt to it right away,” said Audit, at one of his project sites in Saskatoon.

A Statistics Canada report Tuesday showed Canada was in a recession after its second quarter gross domestic product (GDP) fell slightly. A recession is defined as a period of two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

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“One can safely say that the triggering mechanism was the rapid and almost universal decline in prices for energy,” said Peter Phillips, a public policy professor at the University of Saskatchewan.

Even though the Prairie province’s energy sector helps contribute to the downturn, Phillips said he believes Saskatchewan as a whole is still in a good place economically.

“The mix of resources, the mix of services, the mix of primary products of markets that we’ve exploited, is giving us some balance,” said Phillips.

The numbers released Tuesday by the national agency are from June. It’s a fact that doesn’t sit well with Kent Smith-Windsor, executive director of Saskatoon’s Chamber of Commerce. He described the report as “old news” and added it isn’t indicative of the current state of Saskatoon’s economy.

“We’re not panicking by any stretch of the imagination and in fact we still see growth for 2015 in Saskatoon,” said Smith-Windsor.

READ MORE: Plunging oil prices, wild fire response push Saskatchewan into $292M budget deficit

Smith-Windsor isn’t the only one with optimism. Audit said he’s confident business will pick up again soon, even though he only has four current projects.

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“If you can survive this then, yeah, the better times are on the way and I don’t think they’re very far away, we’re pretty optimistic about that,” said Audit.

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