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Some Saskatchewan student employment rates normalizing for summer

Saskatchewan Provincial Parks
The Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport said it expects summer employment rates to normalize going into the peak outdoor season. Dayne Winter / Global News

While student jobs with the government of Saskatchewan have decreased slightly amid the coronavirus pandemic, some numbers are expected to normalize in the coming months.

The provincial government is the largest student employer in Saskatchewan. In a normal year, over 1,000 students are hired to help deliver programs and services while obtaining work experience.

So far in 2020, that number is instead sitting around 700.

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The Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport usually employs a large number of students in the summer.

Parks operations executive director Dan French believes these seasonal staff are crucial for keeping Saskatchewan’s provincial parks pristine during peak season.

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“We’re bringing them back slowly,” said French, “and we’re bringing them back safely.”

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The ministry is currently employing around half of the staff it normally would around this time of year, but that number is expected to grow with the province continuing to reopen in phases.

“By June 1, we’ll probably be closer to 70 per cent,” French explained.

“Then come July and August, as we get into our peak season, we’ll be closer to 100 per cent when it comes to our staffing.”

He added not all jobs will look the same as they once did.

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“We do have swimming pools in three of our provincial parks, so our lifeguards are currently on hold,” French said.

Interpretive programs are also being scaled back and modified to contactless programming.

“It’s a little challenging,” French admitted. “But it’s working. Everybody has got the right attitude.”

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French is optimistic the summer will run smoothly for provincial parks, and staff are excited to have visitors back in campsites.

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“There’s no better place to work than outdoors in our provincial parks.”