UPDATE: Saskatchewan population hits 1.1 million target
People are streaming into Saskatchewan by the thousands and they're staying-put; the province's population has surpassed the 1.1 people mark for the first time ever.
It was cause for celebration at the Legislature on Thursday. A cake that spelled out the province’s official population—1,108,303—was cut and served by Premier Brad Wall to those in attendance.
“We have all of these people that are contributing to a life in Saskatchewan, not just the economy, but more importantly to life here,” said Wall.
The number hit the record mark as of July 31, 2013. That's after the province gained 6,895 people in April, May and June. The second quarter of 2013 saw the highest increase in a quarter since Statistics Canada started keeping records.
The province's population increased by 20,757 since July 2012 and by 106,255 in just six years. The provincial government says Saskatchewan hasn't seen such a population growth since the 25 years after it became a province in 1905.
A big part of the growth is keeping young adults here after they graduate, along with a steady wave of immigrants.
“The province is just a diversified place and I think for that reason we’re better,” he said.
Wall invited dozens of immigrants to join in on the celebration, including Howard Morrissey. Originally from Ireland, Morrissey has been in Regina for the last three years. But along with a new country come new challenges.
“I think the hardest thing to be honest with you was actually accommodation, to try to find accommodation within city limits,” Morrissey said.
He did eventually find a suitable place to live but admits it was a struggle. Making the transition in other areas was quite easy though.
“The normal day-to-day stuff like your driving license and all that kind of stuff was very easy to find out because people were so helpful. They give you lots of information.”
While Morrissey said he had no problem finding a job in Regina, the same can’t be said for Arjun Lamichhane who came to this country from Nepal.
“I couldn’t find the job directly related to my own field,” Lamichhane explained.
As a result, he’s now upgrading his education at the University of Regina. He agrees getting things like a driver’s license and a health card were quite easy to obtain, also commending Canada’s access to social services.
Both men are enjoying the country despite some of these challenges. They have no intention of leaving and feel Canada is worth living in for the long run.
“I’m a firm believer [that] home is where the heart is, and this is home now,” Morrissey outlined.
The provincial government isn’t content with the 1.1 million number. Wall said he hopes the province can keep up with the national average in terms of growth at one per cent a year. By the year 2020, he hopes the population hits 1.2 million people.