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Gormley talks positive future for Saskatchewan

Adapting to change and untapped resources poise Saskatchewan.

ASSINIBOIA – It was another healthy turn out for the Agriculture Appreciation Banquet on Jan. 13 at the Prince of Wales Cultural and Recreation Centre.

Mayor Sharon Schauenberg credited local and area agricultural producers for the tremendous work they do.

“It is a job with high demands and sacrifices, early mornings and late nights, rising costs and unpredictable weather; hope and faith,” she said. “It is not a job for the faint hearted, and so we gather here tonight to thank you for those long hours, those sacrifices and your continued hard work.”

Kathy Kennedy, Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce Co-Chair, echoed those sentiments of the agriculture industry, calling farmers “the backbone of the community.”

“Thank you all for your work tirelessly year-round to provide nourishment to our families, communities, and the world,” she said. “You’re some of the most adaptable and agile people we know. The presence of farmers in our community is invaluable.”

Well over 200 people filled the auditorium, not only to enjoy the banquet, but hear from Saskatchewan’s most popular radio talk show host.

“I am very fortunate because I have the opportunity and the ability every single day - it’s really a privilege that I have - and I’m amazed that it’s now been as long as it has been,” said John Gormley of his “front row seat” in taking the pulse of the province through 25 years of radio.

His presentation titled 'Saskatchewan and the Road Ahead' spoke about the dynamic change in Saskatchewan both past and present, and how our province is staged for rapid, strong growth in the future.

“Walter Scott - who was the first premier of Saskatchewan - in 1905, called this a big land for big people with big dreams,” Gormley said, pointing to the tenacity of those early residents and the incredible changes they witnessed. He pondered awhile on the subject of population, raising several interesting facts about how rapid growth was initially in Saskatchewan, then how people began to “vote with their feet”. To illustrate this point, he asked those in attendance what the most common graduation gift was for those achieving their Grade 12 diploma in the pre-2000 years. A resounding “luggage” was the answer. However, that trend has shifted, and provincial population numbers are expected to reach 1.4 million within six years.

Gormley’s outlook on the future of Saskatchewan is positive, providing several examples of where we are poised for or already enjoying growth.

One example he provided was the job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic - an estimated 74,000 positions in 2020. As of June, 2022, those jobs have returned, and the current unemployment rate in Saskatchewan is 4.1 per cent. At this point, Gormley noted “we’re basically at full employment”.

“We’re at a point now where virtually every single job is full with somebody, and there are vacancies,” he said. “The challenge that we’re going to have post-pandemic is being there for jobs.”

Gormley pointed to the big three industries in this province - food, fuel and fertilizer - providing many examples of positive change in those areas. Given the audience, one of those was the fact that there are three new canola crushing facilities in Saskatchewan, with 70 per cent of that product processed in the province.

“It’s your decision as farmers - do you export, do you sell it here?” He noted, adding how previously there was no option but to export all canola grown.

Melding his points about adapting to constant change and the enviable growth position of the province, Gormley pointed towards personal accountability as key to unlocking that potential.

“Every single day, you can choose the effort you’re going to apply into everything you do,” he said. “The attitude you choose to adopt, and how you’re going to treat people.”