Not all COVID-related news is bad

Amid the myriad of bad news stories that have arisen in 2020 on the Canadian Prairies due to the impact of COVID-19, there are good news stories too.

It is important to recognize not everything is doom and gloom, which can become a dark cloud over everything if we’re not careful. It is too easy for everyone, from our federal, provincial and municipal officials to the chatter over a social-distanced coffee, that things are rather dire.

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Yes, there are businesses that took it on the chin when COVID-19 hit, and it will take a lot to get back to an even keel.

But there are positives out there too.

For example, a recent provincial release noted urban housing starts in July in Saskatchewan increased by 506 per cent, compared to July 2019, which was the highest percentage increase among the provinces.

“This is an incredible increase in July housing starts, which is good news for the province’s construction sector and economic recovery in Saskatchewan,” said Jeremy Harrison, trade and export development minister, in the release. “It’s more proof that Saskatchewan is weathering the external economic headwinds of the COVID-19 global pandemic and is in a solid position for a strong economic recovery.”

Certainly housing construction has a positive ripple effect in the economy keeping supply companies and tradespeople busy.

It’s much the same story in terms of cottage sales which have risen dramatically in this province, according to the Saskatchewan Realtors Association.

Its CEO, Jason Yochim, said on August 10, in a www.yorktonthisweek.com story by Brian Zinchuk that in the first seven months of 2020, only January and April saw a decline in sales. “Every other month saw an increase year-over-year for that month in sales, with the greatest increase being in June with 102 per cent increase in transactions in cottage country.”

“That’s 101 transactions in June of recreational property in the province,” he said. Last year, June saw 50.

Anecdotally, recreation sales; tents, camper trailers, boats and the like have been equally strong to the point supply is an issue.

When people are holidaying locally, they spend money locally as well.

And now, in terms of good news, comes the 2020 harvest which appears to be a good one, if the weather co-operates. In fact, an article at www.producer.com suggests farmers are poised to harvest a bumper crop citing analysts.

In the article Neil Townsend, chief market analyst with FarmLink Marketing Solutions, said there is staggering potential in the fields this year, especially for cereal crops.

FarmLink is forecasting record-shattering yields for wheat, oats and barley after conducting a two-week-long, Prairie-wide crop tour of more than 1,000 fields that ended on July 31.

Even if the forecast falls a tad short, a good crop is always a positive for the Prairies. Having full grain bins is good news for both the mood of farmers, and the economy.

So yes COVID-19 has battered our economy, but there are certainly indications people are spending money and that good things are happening too.