Take this opportunity to learn about the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan is located in the prairie region of Canada, and is bordered by Alberta to the west and Manitoba to the east. Saskatchewan is Canada’s “sunniest” province, averaging 2,000 to 2,500 hours of sunshine annually. The province has a population of approximately 1 million with Regina, the capital city, counting 200,000 and Saskatoon, the largest city, having a population estimated at 230,000. Saskatchewan is home to 72 of Canada’s First Nations, and Reserve lands are scattered throughout the province. Historically, immigrants were attracted to Saskatchewan by the availability of wide pieces of fertile land. Today it is the province’s fast-growing modern economy that attracts new immigrants to build their lives in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan Economy and Employment
Saskatchewan is often referred to as Canada’s breadbasket, as the province produces 28 percent of Canada’s grain and over 54 percent of Canada’s wheat crop. While agriculture is still very important to Saskatchewan’s economy, generating almost $2 billion annually, service-based sectors such as finance, insurance and real estate ($3.3 billion) also make a significant impact. The unemployment rate in Saskatchewan presently hovers around 5.1%, and is therefore below the Canadian average, making Saskatchewan a good place to find work in Canada. The province is also rich in minerals (potash, uranium, coal, oil and natural gas) and Canada’s leading exporter of potash (fertilizer).
Saskatchewan Standard of Living
Saskatchewan has a high standard of living that helps to attract immigrants to settle in the province. The average family income of $48,400 and the minimum wage of $9.25 are both very near the Canadian average. The cost of living in Saskatchewan is quite affordable by Canadian standards; housing costs are among the lowest in Canada and the provinces natural resources help to keep down energy costs as well. The province also has the third lowest marginal effective personal income tax rate (15% provincially).
Saskatchewan has a strong tradition of government-provided social programs that make a major contribution to maintaining high standards of living for all residents of the province. It was a former Premier of Saskatchewan, Tommy Douglas, who is considered the father of Medicare in Canada, pioneering the drive for universal free healthcare which has since been adopted throughout Canada.
Saskatchewan Residential Housing
Sakatchewan is one of the most affordable places in Canada for a new immigrant to purchase or rent a home for their family. Only 64% of Saskatwchewan residents live in Urban centers. With less urban demand to drive up prices, Saskatchewan has very affordable housing. The average house price in Regina is just above $115,000, the lowest average rate of any city in Canada. Houses in Saskatoon are also very affordable, with an average price of $135,000. The average Percentage of household income taken up by ownership costs varies between 18-30%.
In Canada all citizens and permanent residents under the age of 20 are entitled to attend, free of cost, schooling through the end of secondary school. Saskatchewan provides an education for kindergarten through Grade 12 through its public school system with curriculums regulated by the Ministry of Learning. In addition to the standard program, the provincial education system also offers education in French and in First Nations or Metis languages.
After completing secondary school the province of Saskatchewan has a number of different options for students to continue their education and training. Anchoring the province’s post-secondary system are the province’s research universities: University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina. The province is also home to the unique First Nations University of Canada. These universities have an average tuition of approximately $5,000. For those wishing to enter a skilled trade, the province offers apprenticeship programs as well as 9 regional technical colleges and 50 private vocational schools.
Saskatchewan Health Care
Under Canadian Law, all provinces and territories must provide universal, publicly funded health care to all citizens and legal residents of Canada. In other words, most basic health services in Canada are offered at no direct cost to the patient. Certain procedures that are not deemed necessary (such as elective cosmetic surgery and a number of dental care procedures, for example) are generally not covered, but the list of services paid for publicly varies from province to province. Saskatchewan was the first province in the country to set up a program for universal, publicly funded health care. Saskatchewan’s yearly public sector healthcare expenditure mirrors the Canadian average, at 3,400$ per capita per year.
Saskatchewan has a rich history dating back through over 5000 years of First Nations settlement in the region. The province is fortunate enough today to have some of the strongest remaining First Nations and Metis communities in Canada. The first Europeans to arrive in present-day Saskatchewan made their way to the province in the late 1600’s, and were explorers or fur-traders. The province of Saskatchwan at this time would become part of the North-West Territories, which would include much of modern-day Canada.
Shortly after Canada became a country with confederation in 1867, immigration to the area which would become the province of Saskatchewan took off. With huge expanses of unsettled territory, the Government of Canada would pass the Dominion Lands Act of 1872, which allowed newcomers to earn title to land if they cleared it and put it into production. The result of this act was a major inflow of newcomers from various locations, especially Eastern Europe. By the time Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, it had become a very multicultural place, where dozens of langauges were spoken.
The culture of Saskatchewan is a multicultural one that is the product of immigration throughout its history. At the end of the 19th century a major influx of individuals arrived in Saskatchewan from Ukraine and from various places in what was formerly the Austrian empire. As many of these groups, such as the Douhkobor community had left their countries of origin to escape persecution, they took great efforts to keep their cultural practices alive once they arrived in Canada. The result of these efforst is a colourful cultural mosaic that makes Saskatchewan a warm and welcoming place.
As Saskatchewan developed as a rural farming economy, the pioneering spirit remains an important part of the province’s culture. As the earlier settlers braved tough conditions and worked hard to clear and farm their land, they banded together to help each other, created a strong spirit of community that continues in the province today. While the province is much more urban than it was in the past and boasts a modern industrial and service economy, this sense of community helps to create the high quality of life that Saskatchewan residents enjoy.
Saskatchewan is home to nearly 970,000 people. Over 35% of these residents live in rural areas, a figure that places it among the highest in Canada. As for the remainder, nearly half of the total population of the province lives in its two largest cities: Saskatoon (202,000) and the capital of Regina (180,000). With its economy growing strongly, Saskatchewan is hoping to increase this population at a steady pace through immigration, aiming to attract at least 5,000 immigrants a year in the near future.
Built from rapid influxes of immigrants beginning in the 19th century and continuing through to today, the population of Saskatchewan represents a wide range of origins. Some of the most prominent origins identified are German, Irish, Ukranian, First Nations, Scottish, English, French, Metis, Norwegian and Chinese. A large majority of the population lives in the southern half of the province.
Immigration is one of the most important elements in defining Saskatchewan’s culture and history. In addition, immigration is expected to account for a large portion of the province’s future growth. Saskatchewan is making efforts to increase the level of immigration to the province, to attract at least 5000 newcomers each year to contribute to its growing economy. One way the province does so is through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program, which allows the province’s government to select individuals who wish to settle in and contribute to the province and speed-up their immigration visa application process. Saskatchewan’s program identifies skilled workers, farmers, entrepeneurs, international students and individuals from certain professions in demand and helps to bring them to settle in Saskatchewan.
Canada’s government works on a federal system, with control over certain affairs belonging to the national government in Ottawa, and others under the control of the provincial governments. The province of Saskatchewan has its own democratically-elected parliament (known as the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly) which is found in the provincial capital of Regina. There are 58 representatives elected to serve as Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA), each serving a specific geographic district.
Saskatchewan has historically been one of Canada’s more left-leaning provinces politically, and the social-democrat NDP and its predecessor parties have been in power for much of the last six decades. Former Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas was the first to introduce Medicare, which is a government0funded universal medical insurance.
Saskatchewan Major Cities
Regina is the capital of Saskatchewan and its second-largest city. The city is home to approximately 180 000 people. Along with a strong service-based economy, Regina benefits from industries that capitalize on the rich natural resources that surround the city. In addition, supported by the University of Regina, the Regina Research Park is a center for innovation and new technology industries.
Regina was named after Queen Victoria Regina of England in 1882. Previously the settlement had been named Pile-Of-Bones. At the time Saskatchewan was not yet a province, but Regina served as the territorial headquarters of the North-West Territories, of which it was then a part. Regina was named the capital of Saskatchewan in 1906, shortly after it became a province.
With its affordable housing and low cost of living, Regina is a great place to make a new home in Canada. As many immigrants have been attracted by these factors in the past, the city boasts representation from many different cultural communities. In fact, Regina’s multicultural nature earned it the designation of the “Cultural Capital of Canada” in 2004 from Heritage Canada.
Saskatoon is the largest city in Saskatchewan, home to just over 200 000 people. Thanks to its growing economy, the population of Saskatoon surpassed the capital city of Regina in the mid-1980’s. It is often known as “the Paris of the Prairies”. The city is divided by the South Saskatchewan river, making for a very picturesque skyline.
Saskatoon has transformed itself from a priamrily agricultural and mining economy into one that is built around technology and financial services. The city is recognized as a world leader for agricultural biotechnology, an industry that attracts substantial investment from the world’s top pharmaceutical companies. The city is also home to the University of Saskatchewan, a comprehensive research university.
The vibrant cultural life of Saskatoon supports many popular festivals, especially in the summer. The Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, Saskatoon International Fringe Festival and Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival are just some of the many events that attract visitors from across Canada and internationally.