Resource boom fuels Saskatchewan’s soaring economy – by Greg Quinn, Bloomberg News/Regina Leader Post – April 22, 2013)

Kylan Dales gave up a banking career to work out of a mobile office and plow his pickup truck through snow in Saskatchewan’s oilfields.

The 30-year-old’s starting salary as a field operator for PetroBakken Energy Ltd. matched what he made as a retail marketing consultant at Servus Credit Union. Dales’s career shift reflects a “rotation” of demand that Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney says the economy needs – toward business investment and exports and away from consumer spending.

While most of the country faces sagging growth and slowing labour markets, Saskatchewan is benefiting from corporate investment aimed at tapping global demand for natural resources.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s largest fertilizer producer by market capitalization, has expanded capacity. Cameco Corp., and Canada’s biggest uranium producer, is building its Cigar Lake mine atop the world’s largest undeveloped high-grade uranium deposit.

“There is more going on in this province now than I have ever seen,” said Gavin Semple, 67, chairman of Regina farm-equipment maker Brandt Industries Ltd. “Whether it’s population growth, investment, almost any criteria that you want to use to measure, this is a high point,” said Semple.

Saskatchewan’s 3.9 per cent jobless rate is the lowest among the 10 provinces and well below the national 7.2 per cent average.

The province’s budget is in surplus, while other provinces struggle with deficits. The Saskatchewan economy will grow 2.3 per cent this year, compared with 1.6 per cent for the country as a whole, according to an April 4 report from Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Jonathan Bendiner.

Next year, Saskatchewan’s growth is forecast to accelerate to 3.2 per cent, outstripping the nation’s 2.6 per cent pace.

Other cities and regions are struggling. Home sales are declining in Vancouver, while manufacturers in Ontario and Quebec are dealing with slower U.S. orders and a currency that strengthened 42 per cent against the U.S. dollar over the last decade. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has also switched his focus from stimulus spending to eliminating a budget deficit, while warning consumers to curb their own record debt loads.

The situation is different in Saskatchewan. The population grew 1.6 per cent to 1.07 million over the past year, provincial Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said in a March 20 budget speech.

Saskatchewan employers still need to recruit workers from Ontario, Ireland and the Philippines to fill the gaps.

Melbourne-based BHP Billiton Ltd. is making sure it has the creature comforts needed to entice workers to its Jansen site, a proposed potash mine about 140 kilometres east of Saskatoon. The world’s largest mining company hired Calgary-based ATCO Ltd. to build a camp with 2,586 beds, a 1,200 person diner, a gym with two squash courts, two golf simulators and an elevated running track, according to BHP spokeswoman Bronwyn Wilkinson.

China is the world’s largest potash consumer and Saskatchewan is home to the world’s largest deposits of the mineral used in fertilizer. Economic growth in China, the world’s second-largest economy, unexpectedly lost momentum in the first quarter, with output rising 7.7 per cent from a year earlier, compared with a gain of 7.9 per cent the previous quarter.

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