Enough with the doom-and-gloom already.
That was the message from 980 CJME business analyst Paul Martin as he looks ahead to 2017.
Martin said there’s no doubt 2016 was a challenging year in the provincial economy. Cornerstone industries like potash and uranium mining saw prices stay stubbornly low and prices for oil bottomed out near the $20-a-barrel mark.
Amid those grim headlines, Martin said there were some positives.
In particular, he said while many people were focused on the struggles in oil and mining, the province’s farmers were quietly producing one of the best crops in Saskatchewan’s history.
“Agriculture is really firing on all cylinders, particularly the cropping side – not so much the livestock,” he said.
Martin added there’s even a positive story to be told about oil.
While prices aren’t near the $100-a-barrel mark seen during the last big boom, prices have roughly doubled over the course of the year – now sitting around the $50-a-barrel mark.
“To hear the conversation in the province, you wouldn’t know that happened. But actually, that’s a pretty significant recovery,” he said, noting companies like Crescent Point have since announced plans for major investments in Saskatchewan’s oil patch.
Martin said the biggest headwind will be maintaining optimism in the face of what will likely be bleak news coming from the provincial government.
“We’re going to get a lot headlines saying the government’s treasury is in the bin, that we’ve got deficits and that kind of stuff,” he said.
However, Martin noted government budget numbers are a better indication of where an economy’s been, rather than where it’s going.
“It’s about an 18-month lag time by the time the government numbers start to show. So think about when you see the government deficit, it’s really reflecting what happened 18 months ago,” he said.