Despite some 16,000 Canadians making the move to the land of the living skies, the province lost nearly 24,000 residents last year, leading to its worst net loss in over a decade.
Since 2009 the number of Canadians moving to Saskatchewan has been in decline, and for the last five years it has resulted in a net loss for the province.
Saskatchewan posted the worst deficit in a decade last year, losing 7,459 to interprovincial migration. In 2016, they lost 5,644 people.
“I am concerned that workers are looking elsewhere for jobs and opportunities. Losing people to other provinces means those provinces are providing something that Saskatchewan isn’t,” Saskatchewan Labour Federation president Larry Hubich wrote in a statement.
Data from 2014-15 shows that the majority of people are leaving for Alberta (9,510), British Columbia (4,438) and Ontario (3,163).
“We lost the most people to Alberta. To narrow the migration gap, Saskatchewan needs to follow suit with Alberta and rapidly phase-in a $15 an hour minimum wage so people working fulltime in our province can be lifted out of poverty level wages,” Hubich said.
But Regina Chamber of Commerce CEO John Hopkins said it’s a little early to push the panic button.
“We’re still growing, so it’s not like we’re losing people on a net basis. There’s been an ebb-and-flow of outmigration over the years, it’s been a little more pronounced in recent years – primarily due to the fact that there’s economy – however our unemployment rate is still at the national average, and there’s still opportunities being created, so no alarm bells at this point,” he countered.
International immigration has kept the population growing; in the past decade Saskatchewan’s population has increased by 159,489 or 15.8 percent.
“Saskatchewan continues to create jobs, continues to create opportunities, so people continue to look for opportunities here,” Hopkins noted.
“People generally come to where opportunities are, we’re still on positive side because of international immigration. If that trend were to change, then we would have to stop and say ‘okay, what’s really going on?’” he continued.