Saskatchewan farmers a big factor in low unemployment rate

Steady demand for farm produce a contributing factor to low unemployment rate in Saskatchewan.
Photo illustration by Conchita Galvez

Farmers are receiving a handful of praise as Statistics Canada revealed the province has the second lowest unemployment rate.

Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison says the 6.9 percent unemployment rate is largely due to the focus on growing exports such as farming, food products, and forestry.

Josef Buttigieg owner of Fenek Farms in Regina, says that farming and food produce are not impacted the same way as this is an essential need. While the Covid-19 pandemic has left small businesses struggling, the consumer demand for produce has not changed.

“Everyone needs to eat. Food needs to get from farm to table,” said Buttigieg.

When asked about his top selling produce Buttigieg replied “canola — hands down”. The Saskatchewan Agriculture Exports reports shows canola exports increased to 3.6 billion in 2017.

According to Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food the sector is the leading supplier of products. “Saskatchewan is home to more than 40 per cent of Canada’s cultivated farmland. We have more than 60 million hectares of natural land and pasture.”

With the Covid-19 pandemic pushing Canadians to stay at home, produce in flour has risen with an increased interest in baking and cooking at home.

“Cereal grains account fir just over 50 per cent of Saskatchewan’s total agri-food exports” as reported in 2019.

Tammy MacDonald, owner of Kambeitz Farms in Sedley — a small village of 337 people just 40 km Southeast of Regina, says farming is improving the unemployment rate in Saskatchewan because it is a full time operation.

“Not a lot has changed because the farming industry can’t be stopped. Our top product is canola and we need to keep planting,” said MacDonald.

The farm hires both seasonal and full time workers and its workforce and has not been affected by the pandemic.

Data from Statistics Canada indicated unemployment in Canada reached an all time high of 13.7 per cent during May 2020 — with an average rate of 7.7 per cent. The Merchandise Export report released data indicating that exports increased by 3.6 per cent with a total value of $2.79 billion in October 2020.

The Merchandise Export report released data showing Saskatchewan’s year-over-year growth as the highest in the country. According to saskatchewan.ca, a few of the top world exports are canary seeds (70%), lentil (51%), and canola seeds (21%).

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