Tank: Saskatoon retains rising, however pandemic casts a darkish shadow

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The Saskatoon region grew by almost two percent in 2020, but also ended the year with 5,000 fewer employees than a year earlier.

Author of the article:

Phil Tank Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Publication date:

February 04, 2021February 4, 2021Read for 3 minutes Join the conversation Midtown Plaza in downtown Saskatoon can be seen in this photo taken in Saskatoon, SK on Tuesday December 1, 2020. Photo by Matt Smith /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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The Saskatoon area bucked a national trend towards slower growth last year, with the fourth highest population growth rate in urban areas.


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According to Statistics Canada’s most recent estimates from last year, the Saskatoon region grew nearly two percent from 2019, on par with Calgary and just ahead of Edmonton.

In comparison, the Regina region grew by just under 1 percent and the Winnipeg region’s growth rate was lower than that of Regina. Nationally, the metropolitan areas grew by 1.3 percent.

As of July, 336,614 people were living in the Saskatoon area, which includes the cities of Warman and Martensville, as well as some smaller parishes, according to Statistics Canada.

The Saskatoon region ranks 17th among the largest cities of its kind in Canada and has grown an estimated 14 percent since the last census in 2016. That growth rate over this period is exceeded by only two communities with a population of 100,000 or more: Kelowna, BC, and Chilliwack, BC

Regina grew 11.3 percent, more than the three largest prairie cities: Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

No one expected the Saskatoon region to maintain its rapid pace of growth in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a growth rate of two percent during these times is still encouraging.

This is especially true since Saskatchewan’s population began to decline in 2020.

But the same factors that make Saskatoon and the surrounding area an attractive place to live also make it vulnerable to the most difficult effects of the pandemic.

The Saskatoon region ended a COVID-19 devastated 2020 with an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent, which is higher than the provincial unemployment rate (seven percent) and Regina’s rate (6.3 percent).


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A year ago, the Saskatoon region had an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, lower than that of the entire province and region of Regina.

The unemployment rate more than doubled to 14.1 percent in June before falling again.

However, unemployment rates can be deceptive as they do not include those who stopped looking for work as we know many did during the pandemic. Women in particular may have stopped looking for work to focus on looking after children.

The workforce in the Saskatoon area fell like a rock from 181,100 in December 2019 to 160,800 in June, before rebounding to 176,100 by the end of the year.

That is 5,000 fewer employees. The increase in the population of the region from 2019 to 2020 was 6,185.

So there are more people in the Saskatoon area, but also more people looking for help.

Unfortunately, the recent list of COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatoon includes some of the most essential services for people in difficult economic times.

The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Center is experiencing its second outbreak. Outbreaks have also been reported at the Friendship Inn and the Salvation Army Halfway House.

As expected for the province’s largest urban center, the Saskatoon Zone, which is used by the province to share information on COVID-19, has also led in several categories.

The Saskatoon Zone leads the province in both testing and total cases diagnosed. As of Tuesday, 6,244 COVID-19 cases had been recorded in that zone, about 26 percent of the 24,236 total cases. That’s a little less than the region’s share of the Saskatchewan population, about 28.5 percent.


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The Saskatoon Zone also leads the tests with 142,338 tests run, about 27.8 percent of all tests run in Saskatchewan, which continues to lag well behind the national test rate.

Almost a third of the total cases in the Saskatoon area, 2,033, were diagnosed so far in 2021, when the test-positive rate rose to a worrying 9.6 percent.

The province’s most populous zone led in active cases mainly since the fall, peaking at 1,538 on December 7 and peaking at 921 after Christmas, before dropping to 555 on Tuesday.

Active cases in the Saskatoon Zone peaked at 100 on April 7, which was worrying at the time.

The Saskatoon Zone may now leave the worst part of the pandemic, but the full recovery remains at an uncertain point in the future.

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