At a meeting in Regina on July 21, 1920, the Saskatchewan Associated Boards of Trade was formally organized. For the next six years, this fledgling organization was a leading voice in provincial affairs, and its activities pioneered the board of trade movement in the three prairie provinces. The association focused its efforts on transportation related matters and matters which centered around the federal government. However, by 1926 this totally volunteer organization, desperately lacking in funds, became dormant. Nineteen years elapsed before an apparent opportunity developed to re-organize and further the concept of a provincial business voice.
In May 1945, as a result of regional conferences held in Saskatoon and Regina, the Saskatchewan Associated Boards of Trade was formally re-organized and has remained in operation during the last 50 plus years.
In the spring of 1952, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce entered into an integration agreement with the Saskatchewan Associated Boards of Trade by which the Canadian Chamber agreed to provide office facilities and staff for the operation of the provincial association, without charge, in return for an undertaking that the Saskatchewan Association (later renamed the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce) would not solicit direct financial support from business and industry.
It was not, however, until October 18, 1968 that the Saskatchewan Chamber became provincially incorporated and, therefore, a legal entity.
Although the relationship with the Canadian Chamber was not without difficulties, the system worked relatively well until 1975, when an agreement was established to allow limited access to the business community in order to provide greater funding for the provincial chamber.
This new integration agreement was for an initial period of two years, terminating December 31, 1976. The revenue sharing formula allowed 75% of fees paid by new corporate members with head office in Saskatchewan, plus 75% of the amount received from increases from Saskatchewan corporate members during each of the two calendar years, to be transferred to the Provincial Chamber; however, only after deducting the amount of fees of all Saskatchewan corporate members which resigned during each of the two calendar years and/or reduction in fees of these members. This arrangement was felt to be a break-through in negotiations to raise extra revenue, but in early 1976 the Executive Council agreed a greater continuous revenue-producing program should be initiated for 1977.
Following some 16 months of negotiations with the Canadian Chamber, no new agreement was reached. On April 15, 1977, at the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Chamber in North Battleford, the Board of Directors, after considerable deliberation, agreed the Saskatchewan Chamber would solicit individual memberships from any Saskatchewan firm which “indicates it has no interest in membership in the Canadian Chamber, or if it is a member of the Canadian Chamber and is prepared to pay additional monies to the Saskatchewan Chamber”.
It was subsequently agreed that the Provincial Chamber would accept memberships only from business firms which were already, or had agreed to become, members of organized chambers/boards which were members of the Saskatchewan Chamber. In late 1979, a task force investigated all aspects of the business membership approach adopted by the Provincial Chamber. As a result of a survey of all member chambers and boards, the task force determined that the direct solicitation of business memberships by the Saskatchewan Chamber had not resulted in any significant problems for member organizations and, therefore, recommended in its January 28, 1980 report that the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce continue to solicit its members directly from firms carrying on business in the province of Saskatchewan.
Because of the additional revenue generated through direct business memberships, the Saskatchewan Chamber has been able to expand its services to members and achieve a higher profile as the voice of the provincial business community.
The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce membership now includes some 65 chambers of commerce and boards of trade who themselves have more than 10,000 members. In addition, there are over 1,000 direct business representatives.