British Columbia Searching For a New Economic Advantage

"B" grade on How Canada Performs report card reflects transition in B.C. economy

OTTAWA, May 15, 2014 /CNW/ - British Columba gets a "B" grade for economic performance, according to The Conference Board of Canada's first "How Canada Performs: Economy" report card to compare the 10 provinces and 16 advanced countries. The grade reflects that province's challenges in taking advantage of new opportunities, most of them in Asia.

Released today, and building on previous "How Canada Performs" analyses, the Economy report card is the first of six to be produced over the next year on Canadian and provincial socio-economic performance.

"Like Saskatchewan and Alberta, B.C. is blessed with an abundant supply of natural resources. But it depends more on lumber exports, which have been constrained by the sluggish state of the U.S. housing market over the past few years," said Glen Hodgson, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist. "Shale gas, which could be exported to Asia as liquefied natural gas, offers a significant opportunity."

HIGHLIGHTS

  • B.C. ranks highest among the provinces and third internationally behind only Switzerland and Ireland in its outward greenfield foreign direct investment.
  • The sluggish state of the U.S. housing market over the past few years has negatively affected B.C.'s key forestry sector.
  • B.C. is a "C" grade performer on labour productivity growth.

A key factor in B.C.'s future success will be its productivity growth. Productivity is the single most important determinant of a country's prosperity over the longer term. Between 2008 and 2012, B.C. obtained a "C" grade on labour productivity growth, trailing four other provinces and three countries. In addition, B.C.'s level of labour productivity is slightly below the Canadian average.

British Columbia is an outward-looking province, as demonstrated by its "A" grade on outward greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI)—that is, investment that expands an existing business or creates a new business as opposed to a merger or acquisition.

This performance over a five year period (2008-2012) put B.C. in first place within Canada and third among the international peers behind only Switzerland and Ireland.

The province gets a "C" grade on inward greenfield FDI, meaning that it attracts slightly less investment than would be expected for an economy of its size.

B.C. earned an "A" grade for GDP growth in 2013, which placed the province in a tie for  6th place among the 26 jurisdictions analyzed and ranking higher than all other peer countries except Australia.

Yet, employment in the province actually dropped by 0.2 per cent in 2013, giving B.C. a "C" grade on employment growth. Employment growth in B.C. is expected to return to more normal levels in line with greater demand for lumber from the United States.

British Columbia's unemployment rate, while a "B" grade, remains above the rates in the other Western provinces. The slump in the U.S. housing market and the damage inflicted by the pine beetle has hurt the province's key forestry sector.

The Conference Board will hold a British Columbia Business Outlook Webinar on June 20, 2014 at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT).

How Canada Performs is an ongoing research program at The Conference Board of Canada to help leaders identify relative strengths and weaknesses in Canada's socio-economic performance. The How Canada Performs website presents data and analysis on Canada's performance compared to peer countries in six performance categories: Economy, Innovation, Environment, Education and Skills, Health, and Society.

This is the first year that provincial and territorial rankings are included in the analysis.

The Education and Skills report card will be released in June.

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

For further information:

Yvonne Squires, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 221
E-mail: corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca