Incomes rise for Sask. Families Census: Figures show economy no longer dominated by farms

The final report from the 2001 census on Tuesday provided information on household income.

Some facts about Saskatchewan:

Median income: $49,264 (up 5.1 per cent from 1990).
Average income of poorest 10 per cent: $8,830.
Average income of richest 10 per cent: $146,114.
Average government transfer per family: $4,183.
Proportion of family income from government: 7.0 per cent.

By James Parker
of The StarPhoenix May 14, 2022

Saskatchewan families saw their incomes increase at the second fastest rate in Canada during the 1990's, but incomes continued to be below the national average, according to Statistics Canada census data released Tuesday.

From 1990 to 2000, median family income in the province jumped from $46,264 to $49,264, a 5.1 per cent increase. The pre-tax numbers, which are adjusted for inflation, far outpaced the national income growth rate of 0.8 per cent for the period.

But unfortunately for the provincial government, which is attempting to woo back expatriate Saskatchewan residents with its Wide Open Future campaign, Alberta family incomes grew even faster, at a 7.1 per cent clip.

Statistics Canada compared census data from 1990 and 2000 in a study which shows the top 10 per cent of Canadian families enjoyed the biggest income boost during the decade— 14.6 percent to $185,000 a year. The incomes of middle- and low-income Canadians were stable. The median is the middle point where half of the in- comes are below and half are above.

I'm a little surprised it didn?t grow faster,” Eric Howe, a University of Saskatchewan economist, said of the province?s family income.

Saskatchewan?s real gross domestic product grew faster than virtually any place in Canada during the 1990's.

In 2000, the median income for Canada?s 8.37 million families was $55,016.

Saskatchewan ranked sixth among the provinces, just behind Manitoba and Quebec and ahead of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritime provinces. Alberta and Ontario were the only two provinces with median family incomes above $60,000.
Family incomes in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and British Columbia and the three territories dropped during the 1990's.

In Saskatoon, median income for all families — not just those with two incomes was up 2.1 per cent to $54,362. Regina families enjoyed the same rate of income growth, from $57,739 to $58,946.

Howe said the natural resource sector drove economic growth in Saskatchewan during the 1990's. Indeed, the decade saw stepped up activity in the oil and gas industry and a massive expansion of uranium mining in the north.

Howe said Saskatchewan experienced a deeper recession in the early 1990s, but rebounded more robustly than other provinces.

He said the Statistics Canada numbers underscore the fact the province's economy is no longer dominated by agriculture.

The perception of what an economy is about often lags behind reality. There is a perception that we are peasant farmers. But we aren't. And we haven't been
for some time.”

Doug Elliott, editor of Sask Trends Monitor, said the Statistics Canada report was good news because it indicates Saskatchewan is closing the income gap on the rest of Canada. Except Alberta, of course.

"It's a problem in two ways? said Elliott, who noted the province's manufacturing sector has also enjoyed rapid growth.

First, we live beside this monster. And it's a problem because we always have to pick the best province to compare us to. It?s a legitimate comparison, but it's not the only comparison.

That was the point of Industry and Resources Minister Eric Cline, who also stressed Saskatchewan?s (JDP growth was extremely robust during the 1990s.
He said it's time those who dwell on the negative recognize Saskatchewan has posted impressive economic growth and income numbers and is a great place to live.
“We can continually talk about the fact Alberta has a much bigger oil and gas industry:" said Cline, who is also justice minister." Or we can point out the fact we have a larger mining sector and much better prospects in mining and forestry. We have the country's only synchrotron and the lowest taxes for manufacturing and processing. There are many areas where we are leaders and even ahead of Alberta.”

But for Milt Wakefield, the Saskatchewan Party's economic development critic, Alberta is the only comparison that counts. Wakefield represents the border city of Lloydminster. On the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster, median income for a family with two working spouses was $57,631, compared to $80,543 on the Alberta side of the border.

You can tell why people are voting with their feet,” said Wakefield, referring to income growth m Alberta. ‘The fact is, we have the lowest family income of any province east of the Maritimes. And we have had 14 consecutive quarters of out-migration. As well, we have the lowest number of middle-aged high income people. Unfortunately, they are moving somewhere else.”

It's a problem because we always have to pick the best province to compare us to. It's a legitimate comparison, but it's not the only comparison.~~