Canadian prairie province dodges recession bullet

Fri Mar 6, 2009 9:43am EST
 
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By Rod Nickel

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - The world recession has so far stopped short of Saskatchewan, the cold Canadian province that has historically repelled prosperity and young people.

The prairie province, dominated by farming and mining, is in the black, and provincial debt is shrinking.

In its largest city of Saskatoon, a C$200 million riverfront development is moving ahead, along with a plan to build the province's tallest building. Its economy is set to grow, while much of the rest of Canada faces painful declines.

"For a Saskatchewan guy like me, it's the most gratifying news I could receive," Lyle Stewart, 57, a farmer and the province's minister of enterprise and innovation, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"Man, it's been a long time in coming."

Saskatchewan, rich in uranium, oil and potash, should see growth of 1.6 percent this year, the strongest in Canada, the Conference Board of Canada said this week.

The board expects Saskatchewan to add 8,000 jobs this year, helped by a strong construction industry, mine expansions, a C$500-million provincial government stimulus, provincial income tax cuts and general momentum in the local economy.

"They're floating better in a very troubled sea," said Pedro Antunes, director of national and provincial forecasting for the Conference Board, an independent research firm.   Continued...