OTTAWA, Feb. 23, 2012 /CNW/ - The demographic and economic clout of the
Western Canadian provinces is expected to continue to grow, according
to the Conference Board of Canada's Provincial Outlook-Winter 2012. The recently-released 2011 Census revealed that the western provinces
are a magnet for new arrivals, and strong commodity prices are expected
to boost the western economies over the next two years.
"The recent economic slowdown is now barely noticeable in Western
Canada," said Marie-Christine Bernard, Associate Director, Provincial
Outlook. "Despite concerns over global growth and the lasting fiscal
problems in Europe, growth in the Western Canadian provinces is
expected to be a full percentage point stronger than in the rest of the
country this year and next."
The Canadian economy is forecast to post real growth in gross domestic
product (GDP) of 2.1 per cent in 2012. All four western provinces can
expect growth at or above that level this year, while none of the other
six provinces will grow by more than 1.9 per cent.
Alberta is expected to lead all provinces both in 2012 and 2013, with
economic growth forecast to be 3.3 per cent this year and 4 per cent
next year. Global oil prices are expected to remain high, boosting
construction and expansion of oil sands projects. By 2013, Alberta's
unemployment rate is expected to be down to 4.5 per cent.
Saskatchewan is already experiencing tight labour markets and its
unemployment rate in 2013 is forecast to match that of Alberta. After a
gain of 5.2 per cent last year, Saskatchewan's real GDP growth will
ease to 2.6 per cent in 2012 and accelerate to 3.5 per cent next year.
Mining and manufacturing are among the province's strongest sectors
Manitoba's agriculture, manufacturing and utilities sectors are expected
to perform well in 2012. In particular, agriculture is expected to
bounce back following the 2011 floods. Solid population growth is
bolstering demand for housing and retail sales. Overall, the provincial
economy is expected to grow by 2.7 per cent in 2012 and by 2.6 per cent
British Columbia is being held back by external factors, such as
moderating growth in China and a modest improvement in the U.S. housing
market, which will finally generate some gains in the forestry
industry. But restrained public sector spending will dampen
construction. All in all, British Columbia's economy will grow by 2.1
per cent this year, and real GDP growth will accelerate to 3.6 per cent
Ontario's economy will feel the pinch of deficit-reduction efforts at
both the federal and provincial levels. Ontarians' real after-tax
incomes will post only a small gain in 2012 as both employment and
wages advance at a moderate pace. As a result, Ontario's economy will
grow by just 1.9 per cent in 2012, although stronger growth of 2.8 per
cent is expected in 2013.
Quebec has a few bright spots in its outlook, notably strong business
investment in Northern Quebec's mining sector. But lower public
infrastructure investment, a decline in housing starts, a weak labour
market, and declining real disposable income will limit real GDP growth
to 1.4 per cent in 2012.
The Maritime provinces face modest growth prospects. Nova Scotia's
economy will grow by 1.5 per cent in 2012, but 2013 offers a brighter
outlook thanks to new natural gas production and stronger
manufacturing. New Brunswick can also expect growth of 1.5 per cent
this year, following a long-awaited rebound in the job market. The end
of fiscal stimulus in Prince Edward Island will limit the Island's real
GDP growth to 1.4 per cent in 2012.
Newfoundland and Labrador's economy is in transition. The oil and
natural gas industry has reached peak production, but iron ore mining
in Labrador is on the upswing. The province's economy is forecast to
grow by just 0.7 per cent in 2012, before accelerating to 2.1 per cent
in 2013. Strong employment and wage gains mean that the province is
attracting workers rather than losing them.
SOURCE CONFERENCE BOARD OF CANADA
For further information:
Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 448