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Saskatoon: Low commodity prices pose problems

High potash, oil and wheat price power Saskatoon’s economy in good years, while low prices weigh it down in bad ones
saskatoon skyline thinkstock


Saskatchewan’s commercial capital might still be one of Canada’s fastest growing city, but that hasn’t stopped its economy from slowing down. Saskatoon entered 2017 plagued by a prolonged period of historically low commodity prices. And the drag on commodities has had long-term effects on employment and the demand for office and industrial space in the city. Unemployment continues to trend up, at 6.7 per cent in 2016 up from 4.2 per cent in 2014. Meanwhile, the lack of demand for new office space made last year the third year in a row with a negative absorption of space, according to Colliers. In the industrial market, landlords have begun to lower rates in order to attract new tenants or retain current ones, according to Colliers. However, the fundamentals of the city’s economy are strong. Saskatoon had Canada’s third fastest growing population of any metropolitan centre, after Edmonton and Calgary, growing 12.5 per cent between 2011 and 2016. And as the headquarters of uranium giant Cameco and PotashCorp, the city is well positioned to feel the tailwinds of the next commodity super-cycle.