Think Big!

Saskatchewan has been ahead of Alberta in economic growth for five years now, yet we trail Alberta in both population and job growth. Why would that be? What does Alberta offer that we don’t? According to the  Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Saskatchewan (CMC-Sask) there are two reasons, namely Calgary and Edmonton, both with a populations over 500,000 people. In their report titled The Role of Urban Communities in Sustaining Saskatchewan’s growth (or Think Big Saskatchewan for short) the institute claims Saskatchewan is in the middle of what they call a commodity “supercycle” which could last another 20 years. The world wants what we have here, potash, uranium, oil, grain and pulse crops, but our commodity based economy hasn’t done as well at generating jobs because we don’t have enough value-added processing in Saskatchewan. In order to get the value-added processing we need to have large urban areas that have the infrastructure, labor force, and amenities that can attract processing companies and service industries. 

The idea that Saskatchewan needs more value added industries is not new but Think Big has a new idea on what needs to be done to accomplish this. They feel the key is to grow our urban centres. Studies have shown that provinces or states (located in the prairies) who have cities with populations of 500,000 plus people, tend to weather the volatility of commodity cycles better than Saskatchewan or North Dakota. Manitoba with Winnipeg and Iowa with Des Moine are two examples where population retention was better than in Saskatchewan.

In Saskatchewan the eight major centres account for the majority of the provincial GDP with Regina and Saskatoon accounting for 43 percent of it alone. Our two largest cities populations are approaching 300,000 residents a piece, so we are getting closer to having the critical mass to attract more value-added processing, service industries, and the jobs that come with them. However, we are likely 25 to 30 years away from hitting half a million residents each, which is the requirement to be self sustaining and  being able to smooth out the commodity cycle.

Think Big doesn’t believe we have to wait so long to grow our cities. They think we can jump start the process. How? By working together with our regional partners. For example the Saskatoon, Prince Albert corridor including Warman, and Martensville could be considered a single economic region. Each economic region  would cooperate in developing their economies, infrastructure, and amenities, with the goal of attracting more value-added and service jobs. This region would include the rural sector as well because agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, and mining are critical to our economy accounting for 44 percent of our provinces economic activity.

Think Big concludes that without larger cities the economic growth of the province will be severely restricted as it was from the time of the Dirty Thirties to the early 1970s. They also conclude that there has to be a partnership between both rural and urban areas to succeed. In other words, we have to get out of our little kingdoms of our town, village, city, or municipality (us against them) and Think Big for the betterment of our whole province.  Can we do it?


P.O. Box 2265
Warman, SK
S0K 4S0

Phone: 306-292-7066


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Warman Chamber of Commerce