Environmental Scan - Saskatchewan: Spring 2019

Once a year, Service Canada develops Economic/Environmental Scans (E-Scan) that provide a general overview of demographic, economic and labour market conditions and trends. E-scans will be of interest to those who seek to know more about the state of a provincial or regional economy and labour market. Facts and statistics presented in this document reflect information available as of April 2019.



The data table for this graph is located below
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  • Weak Commodity prices limit growth
  • Jobless rate exceeds Canadian average for first time
  • Exports rise over 11% in 2018
  • Trade deal uncertainty lingers in 2019
  • Uncertainty in the oil and gas industry and an oversupplied uranium market limited Saskatchewan's real gross domestic product (GDP) growth to an expected 1.1% in 2018.
  • Provincial employment was up 2,400 in 2018, thanks to widespread gains in the services-producing sector.
  • Yorkton-Melville region's unemployment rate jumped to 6.3% in 2018, 1.1 percentage points higher than a year ago. The largest employment losses were recorded in the region's construction, and accommodation and food services industries during this period.
  • Saskatchewan's economic fortunes are expected to improve this year as several oil and potash firms invest in expanding their operations. However, ongoing trade issues with the United States (U.S.) and China could adversely affect several industries in the province.

Economic context

Global Outlook: Slowing down amid uncertainties

After a widespread cyclical upswing that lasted almost two years, global economic expansion slowed in the second half of 2018. Escalating trade tensions leading to lower business confidence, weaker than expected momentum in the euro area, tighter credit policies in China, and the normalization of monetary policy in major advanced economies contributed to the slowdown. Weakened global growth is expected to persist partway through 2019 with considerable uncertainties in the short-term.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that about two-thirds of the expected deceleration in this year's global growth will be due to a slowdown in advanced economies.1 While the US remained robust last year with a tight labour market and strong consumption growth, business investment has softened. The temporary boost from US fiscal stimulus, domestically and on its trading partners, is set to wane. In the Euro area, rising concerns of a no-deal Brexit are weighing on investment spending. Nonetheless, global growth is anticipated to improve in the latter part of 2019 and into 2020.2 Many of the world's major central banks are increasingly leaning towards a more accommodative stance and conditions in stressed emerging market economies are gradually stabilizing. Furthermore, China has been ramping up its fiscal and monetary stimulus to offset the negative impact from trade tariffs.

Difficulties in settling controversial issues, such as the US-China trade dispute, pose downside risks to the outlook. Other issues include Brexit negotiations, disagreements within the EU over the Italian budget, and Mexico's new policy direction following a change in administration. On the upside, a resolution of trade tensions could lead to a bounce back in business confidence and strengthen investor sentiment.

The data table for this graph is located below

Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Update, April 2018

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Economic Outlook Projections
2018 2019F 2020F
World 3.6% 3.3% 3.6%
Advanced Economies 2.2% 1.8% 1.7%
Emerging Market and Developing Economies



Projected Real GDP Growth
2018 2019F 2020F
Euro Area 1.8% 1.3% 1.5%
UK 1.4% 1.2% 1.4%
Japan 0.8% 1.0% 0.5%
China 6.6% 6.3% 6.1%
Canada 1.8% 1.5% 1.9%
US 2.9% 2.3% 1.9%

Projected Unemployment Rates in 2019
Japan 2.4%
China 3.8%
US 3.8%
UK 4.2%
Canada 5.9%
Euro Area 8.0%

National Overview: Rosier times ahead

In tune with global growth, Canada's economy expanded in 2017 and the first half of 2018 before weakening in the latter half of the year. Rising US trade protectionism, challenges in the oil sector, and falling global and domestic demand have weighed on investment spending. Consumer consumption also slowed as debt growth continued to outpace incomes. Real GDP in Canada is expected to slow to 1.4% growth this year, with some economic weakness lingering from late 2018, before picking up throughout the year and expanding by 2.0% in 2020.3

In the first quarter of 2019, the Conference Board of Canada's Index of Business Confidence dropped to a three-year low of 84.3.4 Although a new trade deal with the US and Mexico was reached last year, the agreement has yet to be ratified; however, this could come easier now that steel and aluminum tariffs have been revoked. US duties on Canadian softwood lumber combined with falling lumber prices and log shortages have resulted in curbed production and sawmill closures. The energy sector continues to face significant transportation constraints. Alberta's oil production cuts have lifted the price of Canadian oil from the record lows last year, but the one-year delay in Enbridge's Line 3 replacement brings new uncertainties on project timelines and investment decisions. Nonetheless, investment spending in Canada's energy sector is expected to rebound in 2020, driven by the development of major projects including LNG Canada in British Columbia. The newly elected Alberta government also has plans to reduce business taxes from 12% to 8% gradually over the next four years to attract new investment.

Outside of the energy sector, firms, especially those in service-oriented sectors, have improved outlooks with intentions to increase capital spending and add workers to meet sustained demand.5 Accelerated depreciation measures introduced in the federal government's 2018 Fall Economic Statement have likely contributed to the higher spending intentions. Meanwhile, residential investment is anticipated to soften as the housing market continues to cool, following government measures aimed at cooling demand as well as five interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada since mid-2017.

Households are starting to feel the pinch from higher interest rates, especially as they owe a record $1.79 for every dollar of disposable income.6 However, Canada's low unemployment rate7 and high job vacancy rate8 show that tight labour market conditions persist, providing upward pressure on wages9 that could ease the burden somewhat for indebted households. Growth in real personal disposable income is forecast to outpace inflation growth in the near term, resulting in a gain to real incomes.10 Moreover, Canada added 222,000 jobs between January and April this year, the largest share of total employment for this four-month period since 2002, with most of the gains in full-time positions.11 The strong job market along with the growth in income will likely support consumer activity in the coming months.

GDP forecasts for Canada: 2018–2020
3-year average annual growth rates
The data table for this graph is located below

Sources: Canada and the Territories: Conference Board of Canada
Provinces: Average of the 'Big 5' Chartered Banks

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British Columbia 2.1%
Alberta 1.8%
Ontario 1.8%
Québec 1.8%
Canada 1.7%
Manitoba 1.6%
Prince Edward Island 1.5%
Saskatchewan 1.3%
Nova Scotia 1.0%
New Brunswick 0.8%
Newfoundland and Labrador 0.3%
Nunavut* 8.9%
Yukon* 5.0%
Northwest Territories* 2.3%

*GDP for the territories is tied specifically to resource projects

Canada's labour force survey results: 2018 over 2017
The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey
See Definitions for Participation, Employment and Unemployment

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  • Participation rate: 65.4%; -0.4 percentage points
  • Employment rate: 61.6%; +/-0.0 percentage points
  • Unemployment rate: 5.8%; -0.5 percentage points

Saskatchewan Outlook

Saskatchewan's economy faced challenges on several fronts in 2018. Uncertainty in the oil and gas industry, and an oversupplied uranium market, limited economic growth in the province. Saskatchewan's economy only grew by an estimated 1.1% in 2018, on the heels of 2.3% growth in 2017.12

Average weekly earnings in Saskatchewan increased 0.5% in 2018, and now stand at $1,014.16. Despite this modest wage increase, the standard of living has declined in the province as inflation outpaced wage growth. According to Statistics Canada's latest Consumer Price Index survey results, the provincial Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.1% in 2018 – slightly higher than the national rate of 3.0%.13 Overall, Saskatchewanians are likely to cut back on spending this year due to limited employment growth in the province.

Capital investment in Saskatchewan totalled $15.4 billion in 2018, down nearly 2% from a year ago. This follows two consecutive years of investment growth. The largest year-over-year decline in investment was registered in the province's mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry (-$908.6 million or -14%). Looking ahead, investment is anticipated to decline by another $561 million in 2019, due in large to a drop in transportation and warehousing expenditure.14

Meanwhile, the Government of Saskatchewan is projecting a surplus of $34.4 million in its 2019-20 budget. This marks the Province's first balanced budget since oil prices fell in 2014-15. This year's budget includes $5.89 billion in funding for the healthcare industry. Of this, $402 million will used for mental health and addiction services. The budget also includes money to plan new hospitals in Prince Albert and Weyburn, as well as a new long-term care facility in Meadow Lake. On the education front, the provincial government will be spending $3.28 billion this fiscal year, which includes funding for planning and designing three new schools.15 In addition, $2.7 billion has been allocated for urban and rural infrastructure, including improvements to almost 1,000kms of highways.16

Overall, the potash and oil industries are expected to be the bright spots for the province in 2019. A number of oil and potash firms are expanding production capacity. Husky Energy, for instance, currently has five thermal projects under development in Saskatchewan – at Dee Valley, Westhazel, Edam Central, Spruce Lake North and Spruce Lake Central.17 The company also plans to develop a new steam-assisted gravity drainage project for the Lloydminster area and another 10,000 barrels per day thermal project in Spruce Lake East. Moreover, several potash projects are in the evaluation or construction phase, including Mosaic's K3 mine and BHP Billiton's Jansen mine.

GDP forecast
The data table for this graph is located below

Sources: 2015-2017 Statistics Canada Tables 36-10-0434-01, 36-10-0402-01; 2018-2020F: Canada: Conference Board of Canada; Provinces: Average of the 'Big 5' Chartered Banks

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GDP growth rates
Year Canada Saskatchewan
2015 0.8% -0.8%
2016 1.1% -0.3%
2017 3.2% 2.3%
2018f 1.8% 1.1%
2019f 1.4% 1.2%
2020f 2.0% 1.5%


Between 2017 and 2018, the value of Saskatchewan exports increased by over 11%. During this period, the three largest exports were oil and gas ($7.6 billion), other non-metallic minerals ($6.4 billion), and wheat ($3.6 billion).

Geopolitical and trade relations are shifting between Canada and some of its major trading partners, including the United States (U.S.) and China.

  • Over half of Saskatchewan exports went to the U.S. in 2018; a total of over $22 billion. Despite the uncertainty created by NAFTA renegotiations, the value of provicial exports to the U.S. increased nearly 15% compared to levels a year ago. Crude oil and potash accounted for the largest proportion of export gains, while exports of iron and steel pipes and tubes also increased by over $255 million.

    NAFTA renegotiations, which began in 2017, created challenges for a number of Canadian industries in 2018. A new trilateral agreement was reached between Canada, U.S. and Mexico in fall 2018. However, trade uncertainties still remain as the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) has to be ratified in all three countries.18
  • Exports to China were valued at over $4.6 billion in 2018 – making it the second largest destination for Saskatchewan products. Between 2017 and 2018, provincial exports to China grew 31.1%, due mainly to an increase in the value of potash and agri-food products such as wheat and soybean. Overall, more than a third of the provincial exports to China consisted of oilseeds.

    In March 2019, the Canola Council of Canada announced that Chinese companies had stopped buying canola seed from Canadian producers. China cites insect infestation as the reason for revoking the export permits for two of the largest canola companies in Canada: Winnipeg-based Richardson International and Regina-based Viterra Inc.
  • The value of Saskatchewan exports to India declined over 46% in 2018. India was the province's seventh largest trading partner last year – down from the third spot in 2016 and 2017. India has historically been the largest market for Saskatchewan pulses; however, last year India imposed 33% duties on lentils, as well as 50% duties on peas, owing to an oversupplied pulse market.19 This has resulted in a significant decline in pea and lentil exports to the country.
Saskatchewan exported $31.2B worth of goods to 156 countries in 2018. The US remains the province's single largest market followed by China.
The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Industry Canada Trade Data Online,
accessed March 11, 2019

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Saskatchewan exports in 2018
Value in thousands of Canadian dollars
% share
United States $17,306,321,000 55.5%
China $4,626,297,000 14.8%
Japan $1,122,687,000 3.6%
Brazil $930,932,000 3.0%
Mexico $824,916,000 2.6%
Indonesia $791,533,000 2.5%
India $618,001,000 2.0%
Morocco $309,684,000 1.0%
Bangladesh $306,412,000 1.0%
Algeria $296,845,000 1.0%
Others $4,024,222,000 12.9%
Total all countries $31,157,850,000 100.0%

Labour Market Conditions

The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey
See Definitions for Participation, Employment and Unemployment

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  • Unemployment rate virtually unchanged in 2018 at 6.1%; -0.2 percentage points over 2017
  • Employment rate virtually unchanged in 2018 at 64.5; -0.2 percentage points over 2017
  • Participation rate declined slightly in 2018 to 68.7%; -0.4 percentage points over 2017

There were 570,000 people employed in Saskatchewan in 2018, edging slightly higher from 2017 (+2,400), following two consecutive years of declining employment. Full-time employment rose by 2,400 positions during this period, while part-time employment was unchanged. All told, Saskatchewan posted the second lowest employment growth (+0.4%) among provinces last year, ahead of only New Brunswick (+0.3%).

Turning to classes of workers, both public- and private- sector employment increased between 2017 and 2018 (+2,600 apiece). Meanwhile, the number of self-employed Saskatchewanians dropped significantly (-2,900).20

Saskatchewan's unemployment rate stood at 6.1% in 2018, down 0.2 percentage points from 2017. Despite this decline, the provincial unemployment rate still exceeded the national average of 5.8% – this is the first time since Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey began in 1976 that Saskatchewan's annual unemployment rate has exceeded the national rate.

The average number of unemployed individuals decreased 700 in 2018, helping to lower Employment Insurance (EI) claim levels in the province. According to Statistics Canada's Employment Insurance Statistics survey, the number of EI initial and renewal claims received in Saskatchewan declined 1.9% between 2017 and 2018.21

Industry trends

Employment in the services-producing sector increased 3,500 in 2018, while the goods-producing sector shed 1,100 positions year-over-year.

Dry weather conditions affected Saskatchewan's agriculture industry in 2018. And at the end of the year, farmers in some parts of the province faced winter-feed shortages, while topsoil moisture levels were also low. Nonetheless, there were positive developments in the industry. The Government of Canada signed a $153 million agreement with the prairies-based Protein Industries Canada (PIC) Supercluster – comprising of a group of businesses, post-secondary institutions and non-profits – in November. PIC aims to increase the value of key crops in premium markets and is expected to create more than 4,500 jobs across the prairies over 10 years.22 Looking ahead, trade concerns with China pose challenges for Saskatchewan farmers in 2019. As a result, farmers across the province are considering growing less canola.23

NAFTA renegotiations created uncertainty for the provincial manufacturing industry. The U.S. government imposed a 25% preliminary anti-dumping duty on Canadian steel on June 1, 2018. The changes affected EVRAZ Regina, which is the longest-running large diameter welded pipe producer in North America, with an annual capacity of 360,000 tons. The facility in Regina employs approximately 1,000 people and spurs six to 10 times as many indirect jobs through a supply chain, primarily in Western Canada.

Employment declined for a fourth consecutive year in Saskatchewan's resource extraction industry (forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas). The global uranium market remains oversupplied and prices for the commodity continue to be low. Citing imbalance in the uranium market, Cameco Corporation indeterminately suspended operations at its McArthur River uranium mine and Key Lake mill in northern Saskatchewan on July 25, 2018. Approximately 550 employees were permanently laid-off from the site. In addition, roughly 150 positons were reduced at the company's head office in Saskatoon.24

The potash industry is also struggling because of low global prices; however, the long-term forecast for the mineral remains favourable thanks to strong population growth in developing countries. In Saskatchewan, companies such as Gensource and Western Potash are planning to develop new mines. The provincial Ministry of Environment provided environmental approval for Gensource's Vanguard One project in August 2018, and the company is currently looking at financing options for a mine near Tugaske and Eyebrow, SK.25 Meanwhile, construction of Western Potash Corporation's Milestone Project is expected to begin in 2019. Western Potash awarded the project's detailed engineering contract to SNC-Lavalin in June 2018, and expects the project will be ready for final tendering and construction this year.26

A number of major construction projects have concluded or are nearing completion in the province. For instance, the new $407 million Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford recently opened its doors, while work on Jim Pattison Children's Hospital in Saskatoon is almost complete.27 Nonetheless, a few new projects are on the horizon that could provide a boost to construction employment levels. For instance, SaskPower is planning to build a new power station in Moose Jaw, which could require up to 500 workers during the construction phase.28

Wholesale and retail employment declined significantly last year (-2,800). Changing demographics, geography and new technology are influencing the retail environment. After Sears closed its doors in Regina's Cornwall centre at the end of 2017, several other stores have followed suit. Roots Canada shuttered its doors in the Cornwall centre at the end of December, while The Gap and Gap Kids stores closed their doors in January 2019.29

Following significant employment gains in 2016 and 2017, the number of people working in professional, scientific and technical services declined in 2018. Growth in this industry is somewhat dependent on infrastructure and investment made by businesses and government.30 Higher interest rates, difficulties in some resource industries, and trade uncertainties have adversely affected business confidence in the province. According to the Business Development Bank of Canada's (BDC) 2019 Investment Intentions Outlook, business confidence in Saskatchewan has plummeted and was the second lowest in Canada (at 46%), after only Alberta.31

See detailed industry table.

The data table for this graph is located below
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Largest job gains in 2018 1 Health care and social assistance 2,300
2 Educational services 2,100
3 Other services (except public administration) 1,700
Largest job losses in 2018 1 Professional, scientific and technical services -4,000
2 Wholesale and retail trade -2,800
3 Construction -1,200
The data table for this graph is located below
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Six industries make up 59%
of Saskatchewan employment (000s)
Wholesale & retail trade 89.3
Health Care & Social Assistance 78.7
Construction 49.5
Educational Services 43.0
Accommodation & food services 37.4
Agriculture 37.2

Source: Statistics Canada Table 14-10-0018-01 (formerly CANSIM 282-0008)
Labour force characteristics by industry, annual

Local labour market conditions

Compared to 2017, employment was up in three out of five economic regions in Saskatchewan in 2018, while the unemployment rate also declined in three of the five economic regions.

Regina-Moose Mountain
The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey

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  • Participation rate: 71.7%; 0.0 percentage points
  • Employment rate: 67.7%; -0.3 percentage points
  • Unemployment rate: 5.7%; +0.6 percentage points

Strong economic growth over the past decade has made Regina-Moose Mountain an attractive destination for immigrants. The region is a hub for the agriculture and resource extraction industries, making it susceptible to crop performance and commodity price fluctuations. In addition, as the capital of Saskatchewan, the majority share of public administration employment is based out of this region.

Employment in Regina-Moose Mountain increased 1,300 in 2018 – led by gains in education services, construction and business, building and other support services. In contrast, manufacturing shed 1,500 positions this year. Many of Regina's manufacturing companies provide equipment for the resource sector and persisting weakness in the resource extraction industry constrained employment growth in this industry.

Swift Current-Moose Jaw
The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey

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  • Participation rate: 65.0%; -0.1 percentage points
  • Employment rate: 62.0%; -0.5 percentage points
  • Unemployment rate: 4.4%; +0.6 percentage points

Key industries in the Swift Current-Moose Jaw region include trade, construction and educational services. A decline in the number of people working in wholesale and retail trade has adversely affected overall employment levels in this region. Nonetheless, new projects are set to begin in Swift Current-Moose Jaw this year that should provide a boost to employment. SaskPower, for instance, has signed a 20-year agreement with Saturn Power to build and maintain a utility-scale solar power facility near Swift Current.32 In addition, the Province has approved the Blue Hill Wind Energy Project near Herbert. Construction on the project will begin in 2019, and once complete, the facility is expected to generate enough energy to power over 70,000 homes.33

The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey

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  • Participation rate: 69.0%; -0.9 percentage points
  • Employment rate: 64.6%; -0.1 percentage points
  • Unemployment rate: 6.4%; -1.1 percentage points

Saskatchewan's most populous region, Saskatoon-Biggar, has one of the most diversified economies in Canada. The province's mining, energy and agricultural industries support growth in the region's manufacturing and transportation and service industries. Saskatoon's central location also makes it a hub for mining companies and several resource extraction companies are based in the city.

The services-producing sector led employment gains in Saskatoon-Biggar in 2018, with accommodation and food services registering the largest increase (+2,900).34 Overall, the region's unemployment rate declined 1.1 percentage points to 6.4% in 2018.

The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey

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  • Participation rate: 63.3%; -3.3 percentage points
  • Employment rate: 59.3%; -4.0 percentage points
  • Unemployment rate:6.3%; +1.1 percentage points

Agriculture, trade, and healthcare and social assistance are the strengths of Yorkton-Melville's economy. The area is also home to some of the world's largest reserves of potash. The number of people employed in this region declined significantly in 2018 due to falling employment in construction and accommodation and food services. Expansion of Nutrien's Rocanville mine, worth $3 billion, was a significant source of employment up until October 2017, when construction was completed. The unemployment rate in Yorkton-Melville is up considerably and now stands at 6.3%.

Prince Albert and Northern Saskatchewan
The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey

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  • Participation rate: 66.6%; +0.5 percentage points
  • Employment rate: 61.1%; +0.8 percentage points
  • Unemployment rate: 7.3%; -0.5 percentage points

The educational services and public administration industries led employment growth in the Prince Albert and Northern region in 2018. Overall though, economic growth has slowed in a region that is largely dependent on uranium, as well as oil sands activity. Cameco Corporation indefinitely suspended operations at its McArthur River uranium mine and Key Lake mill in northern Saskatchewan in 2018.35 Cameco's decision has also affected secondary industries, suppliers and services in Northern Saskatchewan. For instance, Northern Resource Trucking (NRT), a chemicals and supplies shipping firm, laid-off 22 drivers when Cameco announced temporary layoffs.36

Demographics and Client Outcomes

Population and Migration

Saskatchewan's population has steadily increased since 2007 and now stands at 1,162,062. The province has one of the youngest populations in Canada, with a median age of 37.3 years. This is lower than the national median of 40.8 years.

The age structure of Saskatchewan's population has changed over the past two decades. Approximately 22% of the provincial population was above the age of 60 years in 2018, up from a proportion of about 19% in 1998. And this aging trend is anticipated to continue moving forward. According to Statistics Canada's latest population projections, nearly 27% of the population will be above the age of 60 years by 2038.37

Meanwhile, the proportion of children and young adults under the age of 25 dropped from about 37% in 1998 to 32% in 2018, whereas the prime working age population (aged 25 to 54 years) has remained consistent during the past two decades. However, this trend is projected to change moving forward as the proportion of working-age population will drop 3.6 percentage points between 2018 and 2038.38 See detailed population table.

The data table for this graph is located below
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Saskatchewan Population
Population Projection
Age groups 2018 2038
0-14 yrs 20% 19%
15-24 yrs 13% 13%
25-54 yrs 40% 36%
55-64 yrs 13% 11%
65+ yrs 15% 21%
100% 100%

The province remains heavily reliant on international immigration to grow its population. In fact, Saskatchewan's natural population39 increase was just over 6,000 people in 2017/18, with births adding 15,829 infants to the population and deaths accounting for 9,583.40

Saskatchewan welcomed nearly 15,000 international immigrants in 2017/18, with just 1,173 people emigrating to other countries. However, the trend is reversed when it comes to interprovincial migration. Since 2013/14, Saskatchewan's net interprovincial migration has been negative.41 In 2017/18, 13,556 interprovincial immigrants came to Saskatchewan, while 22,639 people left for other provinces; the majority of Saskatchewan residents relocated to Alberta (9,927), Ontario (5,065) and British Columbia (4,471). See detailed migration table.

Inter-provincial migration, Saskatchewan
2013/14 to 2017/18
The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 17-10-0022-01 Estimates of interprovincial migrants

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  • People entering Saskatchewan from other provinces: 73,663
  • Saskatchewanians departing to other provinces: 99,145

Client Outcomes

Indigenous people

The unemployment rate for Saskatchewan's off-reserve Indigenous population stood at 14.9% in 2018 – nearly three times the rate for the non-Indigenous population (5.2%). This was the second highest Indigenous unemployment rate in Canada, after only Newfoundland and Labrador, and significantly higher than the national average of 10.1% during the same period.

According to Statistics Canada's 2017 Aboriginal Peoples Survey, a shortage of jobs was the biggest challenge that Saskatchewan's unemployed Indigenous population faced while looking for work. Approximately 69% of survey respondents in the province indicated that this was the main issue. The second largest barrier to finding employment in Saskatchewan was not having the work experience required for available jobs (54.5%), followed by not having enough education or training for available jobs (51.3%). 42

The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, ESDC custom table (2018) Indigenous people living off reserve

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Unemployment rate

Immigrants and newcomers

Saskatchewan's immigrant labour force has grown rapidly in the last five years. Between 2013 and 2018, the number of landed immigrants in the provincial labour force expanded by an average of 8.5% per year. Whereas the Canadian born labour force in Saskatchewan increased at a rate of just 0.3% per year over the same period. Overall, Saskatchewan's immigrant population is relatively small when compared to other western provinces. In 2018, immigrants made up 13.3% of Saskatchewan's population. This compares to 31.7% in BC, 23.6% in Alberta, and 21.0% in Manitoba.

As immigrants grow roots, their attachment to the labour market improves.In 2018, the unemployment rate for immigrants who had landed more than 10 years earlier stood at 4.0%, which was considerably lower than the rate for recent immigrants who landed in Canada within the past five years (6.6%).

Landed immigrant unemployment rates by time lived in Saskatchewan
The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Table: 14-10-0083-01 Labour force characteristics by immigrant status

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Time lived in Alberta Unemployment rates
0-5 yrs 7.5%
5-10 yrs 6.6%
10+ yrs 4.0%

Saskatchewan's youth unemployment rate (12.0%) was more than double the rate for those aged 25 years and over. While youth unemployment was virtually unchanged in 2018 (+0.2 percentage points), the unemployment rate among young men rose 1.2 percentage points to 14.4%. Conversely, the unemployment rate for young women decreased one full percentage point during this period, falling to 9.3%.

Youth unemployment rates
The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Table 14-10-0327-01 Labour force characteristics by sex and detailed age group, annual

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Age groups Unemployment rates
15-19 yrs 16.8%
20-24 yrs 9.3%
25-29 yrs 8.0%
15+ avg 6.1%
Older Workers

Increased lifespans have allowed older workers (aged 55 years and over) to stay in the labour force longer. Employment growth among Saskatchewan's older workers averaged 1.7% between 2013 and 2018, far outpacing the 0.5% growth among the prime working age group (25 to 54 years). Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for older workers was 4.6% in 2018, 0.8 percentage points below the rate for the prime working age group.

Although traditionally 65 years is considered the age of retirement, more seniors are choosing to remain in the labour force well into their golden years. In 2018, the labour force participation rate among this age group rose to 20.2%, up 5.6 percentage points compared to a decade ago. In fact, Saskatchewan had the highest employment rate for seniors among provinces in 2018 (19.6%), well above the national average of 14.0%.

Employment rates of older workers
The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada Table 14-10-0327-01 Labour force characteristics by sex and detailed age group, annual

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Age groups Employment rates
55-59 yrs 74.7%
60-64 yrs 57.9%
65+ yrs 19.6%
15+ avg 64.5%
People with disabilities

According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, just over 24% of Saskatchewan's population (aged 15 and over) self-identified as having some type of disability in 2017. Saskatchewan's disability prevalence rate was the second lowest among Western Canadian provinces, behind only Alberta. Nationally, the disability prevalence rate stood at 22.3% during the same period.43

In Saskatchewan, just over 70% of those with disabilities (aged 25 to 64 years) participated in the labour force in 2017. This is significantly lower than the participation rate for the overall population (83.0%). Compared to Canada as a whole, the employment rate among Saskatchewan's disabled population (nearly 66%) was considerably higher than the national average (59.3%) in 2017.

The data table for this graph is located below

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Disability 2017; Charts reflect the 25-64 age group; Disability labour force data are not available below age 25.

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With disabilities Without disabilities


Unemployment rate



In preparing this document, the authors have taken care to provide clients with labour market information that is timely and accurate at the time of publication. Since labour market conditions are dynamic, some of the information presented here may have changed since this document was published. Users are encouraged to also refer to other sources for additional information on the local economy and labour market. Information contained in this document does not necessarily reflect official policies of Employment and Social Development Canada.

Prepared by: Labour Market Information (LMI) Directorate, Service Canada, Saskatchewan
For further information, please contact the LMI team


Return to Labour Market Conditions.

See Guide to the Labour Force Survey https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/71-543-g/71-543-g2018001-eng.htm

Labour force: Civilian non-institutional population 15 years of age and over who, during the survey reference week, were employed or unemployed.

Participation rate: Total labour force expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 years and over. The participation rate for a particular group (for example, women aged 25 years and over) is the labour force of that group expressed as a percentage of the population for that group.

Employment rate (employment/population ratio): Number of employed persons expressed as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and over. The employment rate for a particular group (for example, one defined by age, sex, marital status, or province) is the number employed in that group expressed as a percentage of the population for that group.

Unemployment rate: Number of unemployed persons expressed as a percentage of the labour force. The unemployment rate for a particular group (for example, one defined by age, sex, or marital status) is the number of unemployed persons in that group expressed as a percentage of the labour force for that same group.


Detailed industry table. Saskatchewan Annual Labour Force Statistics, by Industry. Return to Industry Trends

Employment Estimates ('000) 2018 2017 2017 to 2018
# chg % chg
**Total employment, all industries 570.0 567.6 2.4 0.4
Goods-Producing Sector 145.2 146.3 -1.1 -0.8
Agriculture 37.2 36.9 0.3 0.8
Forestry, Fishing, Mining, Oil and Gas 23.5 23.8 -0.3 -1.3
Utilities 7.0 6.8 0.2 2.9
Construction 49.5 50.7 -1.2 -2.4
Manufacturing 28.1 28.0 0.1 0.4
Services-Producing Sector 424.8 421.3 3.5 0.8
Wholesale and retail trade 89.3 92.1 -2.8 -3.0
Transportation and Warehousing 28.3 28.6 -0.3 -1.0
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing 28.7 27.4 1.3 4.7
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 26.2 30.2 -4.0 -13.2
Business, Building and Other Support Services 15.4 13.9 1.5 10.8
Educational Services 43.0 40.9 2.1 5.1
Health Care and Social Assistance 78.7 76.4 2.3 3.0
Information, culture and recreation 20.2 20.7 -0.5 -2.4
Accommodation and food services 37.4 36.4 1.0 2.7
Other services (except public administrat ion) 26.3 24.6 1.7 6.9
Public administration 31.2 30.0 1.2 4.0
Note: Totals may not add due to rounding

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey Estimates, Table 14-10-0023 (formerly CANSIM 282-0008)

Detailed Population table: Saskatchewan. Return to Demographics

Age groups 1998 % of Pop. 2018 % of Pop. 2038 (Projection) % of Pop.
0-4 68,125 6.7% 78,040 6.7% 78,300 6.0%
5-9 77,460 7.6% 77,152 6.6% 80,300 6.1%
10-14 80,359 7.9% 72,472 6.2% 84,900 6.5%
15-19 79,124 7.8% 70,879 6.1% 87,600 6.7%
20-24 70,389 6.9% 74,445 6.4% 84,300 6.4%
25-29 63,879 6.3% 82,888 7.1% 78,500 6.0%
30-34 69,521 6.8% 86,619 7.5% 74,300 5.6%
35-39 80,951 8.0% 81,800 7.0% 72,800 5.5%
40-44 78,557 7.7% 71,399 6.1% 78,300 6.0%
45-49 65,033 6.4% 66,547 5.7% 83,500 6.3%
50-54 52,875 5.2% 70,267 6.0% 84,900 6.5%
55-59 43,056 4.2% 78,416 6.7% 78,200 5.9%
60-64 39,524 3.9% 72,463 6.2% 67,900 5.2%
65-69 39,238 3.9% 56,328 4.8% 61,700 4.7%
70-74 36,520 3.6% 42,099 3.6% 61,000 4.6%
75-79 30,910 3.0% 30,187 2.6% 62,500 4.8%
80-84 22,530 2.2% 22,657 1.9% 49,800 3.8%
85-89 12,891 1.3% 15,833 1.4% 29,700 2.3%
90 + 6,390 0.6% 11,571 1.0% 16,800 1.3%
Total 1,017,332 100.0% 1,162,062 100.0% 1,315,200 100.0%
Median Age 35.0   37.3   N/A

Prime working-age (25-54 years) proportion of total population
1998   2018   2038  
  410,816 40.4% 459,520 39.5% 472,300 35.9%

Source: Statistics Canada: Population estimates: Table 17-10-0005-01; Population Projection: Table 17-10-0057-01 (projection scenario M1)

Inter-provincial migration table: Saskatchewan. Return to Demographics

Saskatchewan net inter-provincial migration detail, 2013/14 to 2017/18
Region of Origin Outgoing Incoming Net Migration
Atlantic Provinces -3,473 3,651 178
Québec -1,659 1,971 312
Ontario -19,137 14,876 -4,261
Manitoba -8,129 9,275 1,146
Alberta -44,635 32,391 -12,244
British Columbia -21,344 10,537 -10,807
Territories -768 962 194
Total -99,145 73,663 -25,482

Notes: Annual period from July 1 to June 30; Data for 2017/18 is preliminary
Source: Statistics Canada, Table 17-10-0022-01 Estimates of interprovincial migrants


  1. International Monetary Fund. World Economic Outlook. April 2019. Released April 2, 2019.↩︎

  2. Ibid.↩︎

  3. Conference Board of Canada. Canadian Outlook Economic Forecast: Spring 2019. Released May 1, 2019.↩︎

  4. Conference Board of Canada. Index of Business Confidence: Spring 2019. Released April 26, 2019.↩︎

  5. Bank of Canada. Business Outlook Survey Spring 2019. Released April 15, 2019.↩︎

  6. Statistics Canada. The Daily: National balance sheet and financial flow accounts, fourth quarter 2018. Released March 14, 2019.↩︎

  7. Statistics Canada. Table 14-10-0287-01 Labour force characteristics, monthly, seasonally adjusted and trend-cycle, last 5 months.↩︎

  8. Statistics Canada. Table 14-10-0325-01 Job vacancies, payroll employees, job vacancy rate, and average offered hourly wage by provinces and territories, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality.↩︎

  9. Ibid.↩︎

  10. Conference Board of Canada. Canadian Outlook Economic Forecast: Spring 2019. Released May 1, 2019.↩︎

  11. Statistics Canada. Table 14-10-0287-01 Labour force characteristics, monthly, seasonally adjusted and trend-cycle, last 5 months↩︎

  12. Statistics Canada (accessed March 22, 2019). Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by industry, provinces and territories (x 1,000,000). Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3610040201

    Conference Board of Canada (March 13, 2019). Provincial Outlook Economic Forecast: Saskatchewan—Winter 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.conferenceboard.ca/e-Library/abstract.aspx?did=10194↩︎

  13. Statistics Canada (accessed March 27, 2019). Consumer Price Index, annual average, not seasonally adjusted. Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1810000501↩︎

  14. Statistics Canada (accessed March 27, 2019). Capital and repair expenditures, non-residential tangible assets, by industry and geography (x 1,000,000). Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3410003501↩︎

  15. The Government of Saskatchewan (March 20, 2019). Saskatchewan Budget. Retrieved from: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/budget-planning-and-reporting/saskatchewan-budget-2019-20#investments-in-infrastructure↩︎

  16. Global News (March 20, 2019). ‘The right balance': Saskatchewan delivers balanced budget. Retrieved from: https://globalnews.ca/news/5077455/saskatchewan-budget-balanced/

    Reuters (March 20, 2019). Canada's Saskatchewan balances the books for first time in five years. Retrieved from: https://ca.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idCAKCN1R12QY-OCABS

    Regina Leader-Post (March 20, 2019). Saskatchewan budget 2019-20: By The Numbers. Retrieved from: https://leaderpost.com/news/politics/saskatchewan-budget-2019-20-by-the-numbers

    CTV News Regina (March 20, 2019). Budget breakdown: Sask. tables 2019 budget. Retrieved from: https://regina.ctvnews.ca/budget-breakdown-sask-tables-2019-budget-1.4344624

    Regina Leader-Post (March 21, 2019). New joint-use schools for Regina and Moose Jaw part of Sask. budget. Retrieved from: https://leaderpost.com/news/politics/new-joint-use-schools-for-regina-and-moose-jaw-part-of-sask-budget

    Global News (March 20, 2019). $706M budgeted for Saskatchewan's highways and roads in 2019-20. Retrieved from: https://globalnews.ca/news/5077340/budget-saskatchewan-highways-humboldt-broncos-bus-crash/

    Global News (March 20, 2019). ‘The right balance': Saskatchewan delivers balanced budget. Retrieved from: https://globalnews.ca/news/5077455/saskatchewan-budget-balanced/

    CBC News (March 20, 2019). Saskatchewan Budget 2019: Saskatoon Children's Hospital gets $23 million more for hiring. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/budget-childrens-hospital-23-million-more-1.5064597

    CBC News (March 20, 2019). 6 new K-12 schools planned as Sask. 2019 budget pours $95M into new buildings. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/6-new-k-12-schools-planned-as-sask-2019-budget-pours-95m-into-new-buildings-1.5064519↩︎

  17. Mylloydminsternow (January 4, 2019). Husky proceeding with new Saskatchewan SAGD project. Retrieved from: https://www.mylloydminsternow.com/27756/husky-proceeding-with-new-saskatchewan-sagd-project/↩︎

  18. CBC News (April 8, 2019). Ratification of new NAFTA in 2019 looking unlikely amid trade tensions. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/nafta-uscma-ratification-1.5088657↩︎

  19. The Western Producer (November 8, 2017). Spring wheat edges higher Wednesday, canola steady. Retrieved from: https://www.producer.com/daily/spring-wheat-edges-higher-wednesday-canola-steady/

    Financial Post (November 8, 2017). India imposes surprise 50% tariff on pea imports to further sour trade. Retrieved from: http://business.financialpost.com/pmn/commodities-business-pmn/agriculture-commodities-business-pmn/india-imposes-surprise-50-tariff-on-pea-imports-to-further-sour-trade

    The Business Insider (November 23, 2017). Canada's peas acreage set to fall as top buyer India imposes tariff. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-canadas-peas-acreage-set-to-fall-as-top-buyer-india-imposes-tariff-2017-11

    Trade Data Online (December 1, 2017). Canadian total exports. Retrieved from: https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/scr/tdst/tdo/crtr.html?timePeriod=5%7CComplete+Years&reportType=TE&hSelectedCodes=%7C71310&searchType=KS_CS&productType=HS6&currency=PC&countryList=DET&runReport=true&grouped=INDIVIDUAL&toFromCountry=CDN&naArea=P47

    CBC News (March 2, 2018). Pulse industry worries about precedent as India slaps 60% tariff on chickpeas. Retrieved from:


  20. Statistics Canada (accessed: January 24, 2019). Employment by class of worker, annual (x 1,000). Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410002701↩︎

  21. Statistics Canada (accessed April 16, 2019). Employment insurance claims received by province and territory, monthly, seasonally adjusted. Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410000501↩︎

  22. The Government of Canada (November 13, 2018). Protein Industries Canada Supercluster kicks into high gear. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2018/11/protein-industries-canada-supercluster-kicks-into-high-gear.html↩︎

  23. CTV News (March 22, 2019). Sask. farmers consider growing less canola amidst China-Canada trade dispute. Retrieved from: https://saskatoon.ctvnews.ca/sask-farmers-consider-growing-less-canola-amidst-china-canada-trade-dispute-1.4348800↩︎

  24. Global News (July 25, 2018). Cameco permanently laying off around 700 workers. Retrieved from: https://globalnews.ca/news/4353524/cameco-layoffs-key-lake-mcarthur-river/↩︎

  25. Gensource Potash Corporation (August 9, 2018). GENSOURCE ANNOUNCES VANGUARD ONE PROJECT ACHIEVES ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT MILESTONE. Retrieved from: https://gensourcepotash.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/GSP-NR-EA-Determination-09Aug2018.pdf

    Business Wire (February 26, 2019). Gensource Provides Project Finance Update for the Vanguard One Project. Retrieved from: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190226005428/en/Gensource-Project-Finance-Update-Vanguard-Project↩︎

  26. Western Potash Corporation (June 7, 2018). Milestone Potash Awards Contract for Final Stage of Phase I Project Engineering to SNC-Lavalin. Retrieved from: https://www.westernpotash.com/news/2018/06/07/milestone-potash-awards-contract-final-stage-phase-i-project-engineering-snc

    Western Potash Corporation. The Milestone Project. Retrieved from: https://www.westernpotash.com/projects/milestone↩︎

  27. CBC News (March 20, 2019). Saskatchewan Budget 2019: Saskatoon Children's Hospital gets $23 million more for hiring. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/budget-childrens-hospital-23-million-more-1.5064597

    CBC News (March 8, 2019). New 284-bed secure psychiatric facility opens in North Battleford. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/new-284-bed-secure-psychiatric-facility-opens-in-north-battleford-1.5048773↩︎

  28. SaskPower (Accessed: May 7, 2019). New Power Station in Moose Jaw. Retrieved from: https://www.saskpower.com/Our-Power-Future/Infrastructure-Projects/Construction-Projects/Current-Projects/New-Power-Station-in-MooseJaw

    Discover Mose Jaw (December 20, 2018). SaskPower Selects Moose Jaw for New Power Plant. Retrieved from: https://www.discovermoosejaw.com/local/saskpower-selects-moose-jaw-for-new-power-plant↩︎

  29. 980 CJME (December 18, 2018). More stores closing at the Cornwall Centre. Retrieved from: https://www.cjme.com/2018/12/18/more-stores-closing-at-the-cornwall-centre/

    Global News (December 19, 2018). Vacancy at Regina's Cornwall Centre increases as more stores set to close. Retrieved from: https://globalnews.ca/news/4778894/vacancy-regina-cornwall-centre-closures/↩︎

  30. The Government of Canada (accessed February 6, 2019). Industry profile. Retrieved from: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/si-is.nsf/eng/h_ai02289.html↩︎

  31. Business Development Bank of Canada (January 9, 2019). Investment Intentions of Canadian Entrepreneurs: An Outlook for 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.bdc.ca/EN/Documents/analysis_research/bdc-investment-intention-2019.pdf?utm_campaign=Investment-Intentions-Study-2019--download--EN&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&elqTrackId=8dc4676f9e114bd78269fb01671d06d0&elq=c548e5b1435e403fa67215c3f5807fcb&elqaid=15867&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=↩︎

  32. CBC News (June 19, 2018). SaskPower to build first utility-scale solar power project. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskpower-solar-energy-1.4713390↩︎

  33. Regina Leader-Post (September 20, 2018). Saskatchewan approves new wind energy project with 56 turbines. Retrieved from: https://leaderpost.com/news/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-approves-new-wind-energy-project-with-56-turbines↩︎

  34. Statistics Canada (January 4, 2018). Table 282-0008: Labour Force Survey estimates (LFS), by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group. http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&id=2820008↩︎

  35. Global News (July 25, 2018). Cameco permanently laying off around 700 workers. Retrieved from: https://globalnews.ca/news/4353524/cameco-layoffs-key-lake-mcarthur-river/↩︎

  36. Global News (July 26, 2018). Ripple effect of Cameco layoffs. Retrieved from: https://globalnews.ca/news/4355713/cameco-layoffs/↩︎

  37. Statistics Canada (September 16, 2014). Table 052-0005 Projected population, by projection scenario, age and sex, as of July 1, Canada, provinces and territories – Projection scenario M1: medium-growth, 1991/1992 to 2010/2011 trends. http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?id=520005&retrLang=eng&lang=eng↩︎

  38. Statistics Canada (September 16, 2014). Table 052-0005 Projected population, by projection scenario, age and sex, as of July 1, Canada, provinces and territories – Projection scenario M1: medium-growth, 1991/1992 to 2010/2011 trends. http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?id=520005&retrLang=eng&lang=eng↩︎

  39. Natural population growth refers to the difference between the number of births and deaths in a region over a specific period.↩︎

  40. Statistics Canada (October 5, 2016). Table 051-0004: Components of population growth, Canada, provinces and territories. http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&retrLang=eng&id=0510004&&pattern=&stByVal=1&p1=1&p2=-1&tabMode=dataTable&csid=↩︎

  41. Statistics Canada. Table 051-0019 - Interprovincial migrants, by province or territory of origin and destination, annual (persons), CANSIM (database): Period from July 1 to June 30. http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&retrLang=eng&id=0510019&&pattern=&stByVal=1&p1=1&p2=31&tabMode=dataTable&csid=↩︎

  42. Statistics Canada (accessed April 18, 2019). Table 41-10-0014-01 – Aboriginal Peoples Survey: Reasons for difficulty in finding work by Aboriginal identity, unemployed. Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=4110001401↩︎

  43. Statistics Canada (2017). Canadian Survey on Disability. Table: 13-10-0374-01: Persons with and without disabilities aged 15 years and over, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces and territories. Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1310037401↩︎

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