OPINION: A birthright squandered: How potash firms got rich and Saskatchewan got poor – by Eric Cline (Globe and Mail – July 8, 2024)


Eric Cline is a lawyer and served 12 years as a cabinet minister in Saskatchewan. His second book, Squandered: Canada’s Potash Legacy (University of Regina Press), was released this spring.

Saskatchewan owns one-third of world potash reserves. That puts the province in an enviable position. The market for potash, necessary for fertilizer production, seems assured as long as a growing world population needs to eat. And one-third is a lot. To put that in context, Saudi Arabia, with only about 16 per cent of world oil reserves, dominates the world oil market.

It’s therefore not surprising that companies extracting Saskatchewan’s potash – Nutrien, Mosaic and K+S – make a lot of money. That’s all the more so recently, when Ukraine war sanctions against the potash producers Russia and Belarus sent the price of the commodity skyrocketing.

To illustrate: In 2021 and in 2022, Saskatchewan’s potash industry produced the same amount. In 2021, it received $9-billion revenue. Because of a higher price for potash in 2022, revenue doubled to $18-billion.

But does Saskatchewan look like a province that is home to such riches? The provincial debt has doubled since 2008. To pay for the government’s spending, the provincial sales tax burden on families and small businesses has doubled since then.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-a-birthright-squandered-how-potash-firms-got-rich-and-saskatchewan-got/