The stories behind the census are the immigrants who make up the driving force behind Saskatchewan’s population growth.
The census numbers released yesterday show our population has jumped by almost six per cent in the last five years. New residents from 192 countries and all other Canadian provinces are contributing to both the numbers and the province’s economic success.
Mirroring the stories of immigrants 100 years ago, Howard Morrisey came to Saskatchewan from Ireland. He considers himself lucky to have left a country going through a bad economic downturn.
“Back home in Ireland there was just no jobs, no prospects of any work there so I was lucky enough to get a job offer here,” Morrisey said.
The poor economy forced Morrisey to close his carpentry business, leaving him unemployed in a flood of others looking for jobs. The situation in Ireland is so bad up to 500 Irish leave the country every week.
Morrisey and his wife Sinead Tierney uprooted their young daughter, left their entire family behind and came to Regina following a job offer from a Saskatchewan company. Both are working now and looking at getting a mortgage.
They are hopeful that more people from their country will follow, to help fill the severe shortage of labour workers in the province. From her own experience Tierney understands that a lot of people who need jobs will not be able to immigrate due to the high cost of paperwork to get here.
“That would definitely be a huge cost on a chance because you are not guaranteed that your paperwork would be accepted either,” she said, adding that the money doesn’t get refunded. “So I don’t think people have you know a couple of thousand euros that they can just throw away on a chance that they might get here.”
Tierney and her husband insist that the people who are able to make the leap will be able to turn their lives around if they come to Saskatchewan.
“There is so many guys back home, electricians, plumbers, carpenters you name it. They are at home fully qualified and they have been out of work for maybe two years now,” Morrisey described the situation in Ireland. “There is no prospects at home at all so given the chance that they were offered a job here they would be here right away.”
Premier Brad Wall is trumpeting the new population figures as a sign of an economic and political shift in Canada's power structure. More than that it is a sign that those who founded the province knew what they were doing.