Anyone who has experienced the changing of the seasons in Saskatchewan will know that May Long Weekend has become the true symbolic dividing line between winter and summer (“spring” is rarely more than a messy week-long memory). As we saw last month, the chance of a return to snow and sub-zero temperatures looms throughout May, and to plant one’s garden before the May Long milestone is at best optimistic. After Victoria Day we allow ourselves a collective sigh of relief knowing that the worst is behind us.
Such is the case with Regina’s economic recovery from the devastating effects of Covid-19. While many soft spots remain, increased rates of vaccination in alignment with the Government of Saskatchewan’s three-stage reopening plan are helping the economy to get back on track.
As of May 27, vaccination rates are 52.3% (at least one dose) and 5.3% (fully vaccinated). The Province expects second doses to be complete by the end of July. This, combined with remaining restriction, are having a significant impact on case numbers. Regina’s active case numbers have seen 74% month-over-month decrease, from 839 cases on April 27 to 216 cases on May 27.
Decreasing case numbers have boosted executive confidence considerably. The most recent RELO (Regina Executive Leadership Outlook) report shows executive confidence in the economy at its highest point since 2018. A solid majority of executives believe the worst of COVID-19 is over, and over the next 12 months, Regina executives are expecting to make fixed investments, make new hires, see increased sales and are expecting higher profits.
As the economy starts to reopen, it is anticipated that employment in hard hit sectors such as restaurants and retail will recover faster than industries dependent on travel such as accommodation, culture, and recreation. However, the tourism industry – which represents $101M in direct economic spending – is poised to benefit from loosed interprovincial travel restrictions. To that end the Tourism Industry Association of Canada is calling on all Canadians to pledge that they will only travel within Canada this summer and keep tourism spending here at home.
Regina’s unemployment rate continues to be a point of concern, remaining persistently high at 8.6%. However, this is in line with other major Canadian cities like Toronto (10.6%), Calgary (9.4%), and Saskatoon (8.3%). This is expected to drop as reopening continues and people are able to get back to work.
It cannot be more clearly stated that economic recovery is directly linked to vaccination rates. The best thing Reginanans can do to support struggling businesses and continue the positive trends we’ve seen is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
As a city and as a province, we have been through perhaps the longest, most brutal winter imaginable. But the dawn of a new season has finally arrived as we emerge from the refreshing renewal of that May long weekend milestone. It’s time to replant our economic garden, tend to it carefully and ultimately look forward to a well-earned harvest.