Saskatchewan’s Manufacturing Sector Shows Resilience

Ten-year report emphasizes contributions of manufacturing sector on provincial economy

Saskatchewan’s economy is continuing to benefit from a manufacturing sector that is resilient in supplying good jobs and growing provincial exports.

The Government of Saskatchewan has released its annual report entitled Overview of the Manufacturing sector in Saskatchewan 2010-2020 that provides data on exports, shipments, employment, earnings, and manufacturing gross domestic product (GDP). The numbers look at trends in the sector over the last decade and highlight the positive contribution the sector makes to Saskatchewan’s economic resilience and diversity. 

The manufacturing sector is a critical part of the Saskatchewan government’s Growth Plan, the province’s roadmap to grow its population to 1.4 million people, maintain a strong economy and create 100,000 more jobs by 2030. The Growth Plan sets goals to increase the value of manufacturing exports by 50 per cent by 2030 and to grow the value-added agriculture sector. These goals support a diverse, resilient, and higher value economy. 

In 2020, the manufacturing sector made up 5.5 per cent of provincial GDP and employed 31,000 people across the province. Saskatchewan had the second highest manufacturing productivity in the country in 2020 and paid wages that were among the highest in the country. 

Over the last ten years, Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sector has been one of Canada’s top performers when it comes to increasing shipments and international exports. Between 2010 and 2020 manufacturing shipments have risen from $10.9 billion to $13.9 billion, an average growth rate of 2.5 per cent per year. That’s the third highest growth rate among Canadian provinces and is above the national average of 1.4 per cent. During this period, shipments grew in four major manufacturing subsectors led by wood product manufacturing, which recorded an annual average increase of 13.5 per cent. Food manufacturing, fabricated metal products, and chemical manufacturing also contributed to the growth in manufacturing shipments. 

International exports also grew over the last ten years. In 2020, Saskatchewan’s international exports of manufactured goods totaled $5.4 billion and made up 17.7 per cent of the province’s net exports. Between 2010 and 2020, Saskatchewan’s manufacturing exports have grown by 45.8 per cent at an average annual growth rate of 3.8 per cent per year. This was the third highest growth rate among Canadian provinces and is above the national average of 2.6 per cent. 

During this time, the Saskatchewan government has expanded export opportunities for manufacturers and focused on providing a competitive business environment. The diversity of Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sector is also a factor.  The growth of certain subsectors such as wood product manufacturing, food manufacturing and fabricated metal products has contributed to its resilience. 

Saskatchewan’s international markets for manufactured goods have continued to diversify over the last ten years. Ecuador, Chile, Egypt, Guatemala, and Malaysia have replaced the United Kingdom (UK), Switzerland, Thailand and Turkey in the top ten export markets for Saskatchewan manufacturers.  

Saskatchewan’s international trade and investment offices will create even more export opportunities for provincial manufacturers. Four new offices in in the United Arab Emirates, UK, Vietnam and Mexico will open in early 2022, complementing the four existing offices in Japan, India, Singapore and China. The stronger presence in these important regions will allow Saskatchewan to increase exports, generate more investment and engage with new international trade partners. 

The United States (U.S.) has remained Saskatchewan’s largest export market for manufactured products.  In 2020, the U.S. was the destination for more than 70 per cent of all manufacturing exports. From 2010 to 2020, exports to the U.S. grew by about $1.3 billion to about $3.8 billion. China had the second highest share of Saskatchewan’s international manufacturing exports in 2020 at $924 million with Mexico third at $119 million. 

The growth of shipments and exports over the last decade illustrate the success Saskatchewan manufacturers are having in markets outside the province. The Overview of the Manufacturing sector in Saskatchewan 2010-2020 report also shows the sector is having a major impact within the province. Saskatchewan led all provinces with 4.4 per cent employment growth from 2019-2020. In 2020, 31,000 people were employed in Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sector compared to 29,700 in 2019. Food manufacturing and machinery manufacturing are the largest employers among the manufacturing subsectors with 5,500 and 4,700 employees, respectively. They account for more than 35 per cent of all manufacturing jobs in the province. 

Saskatchewan manufacturers provide good jobs and pay wages that are among the highest in the country. The average employee in Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sector earned approximately $1,191.08 per week in 2020. That is the second highest weekly earnings figure in the country behind only Alberta. The national average was $1,155.77 per week. Wages have been growing at a steady rate in the sector over the last ten years. In 2010, the average weekly salary for an employee in Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sector was $946.73. This annual increase of 2.1 per cent is the third highest among all provinces and above the national average of 1.7 per cent. 

The numbers in the Overview of the Manufacturing sector in Saskatchewan 2010-2020 clearly show manufacturing is a major generator of jobs and economic opportunities in the province. The sector is now set to benefit from massive amounts of money being invested in Saskatchewan. 

Several examples include BHP spending $12 billion to complete its Jansen potash mine, the announcement of three new canola crushing facilities to be built in the province, and hundreds of millions of dollars going toward increasing production capabilities in the forestry sector. Long known as a proven powerhouse in agriculture, oil and gas, and mining, Saskatchewan is on track to continue seeing tremendous benefits from its manufacturing sector. 

From increasing exports to economic diversification, Saskatchewan’s resilient manufacturing sector is building a brighter future for the province. It’s easy to see how the sector’s success is integral to creating a strong, sustainable Saskatchewan.