Manitoba expected to lead all provinces in economic growth in 2008



    OTTAWA, March 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Manitoba's economy is forecast to expand
by 3.7 per cent for the second consecutive year, making it the fastest-growing
provincial economy in Canada in 2008, according to the Conference Board's
Provincial Outlook - Winter 2008.
    "Boosted by ongoing construction projects, robust domestic spending and
an optimistic outlook for manufacturing, the Manitoba economy is firing on all
cylinders. Its neighbour, Saskatchewan, is also poised for another year of
strong growth," said Marie-Christine Bernard, Associate Director, Provincial
Outlook. "In central Canada, the sombre U.S. outlook will present a challenge
for both Ontario and Quebec, but neither province is expected to slide into a
recession."
    In spite of the slowing U.S. economy and the high Canadian dollar, the
well-diversified manufacturing sector in Manitoba is being fuelled by large,
lucrative orders for buses and aircraft parts. As a result, manufacturing in
Manitoba is expected to grow by an average of 5.5 per cent over the next two
years, two percentage points higher than the national average.
    Saskatchewan's economy is also booming, with growth of 3.6 per cent
expected in 2008-slightly below the province's 2007 pace. High commodity
prices are driving mining activity and boosting construction projects. In
addition, new migrants are bolstering Saskatchewan's domestic economy.
    Alberta's economy is cooling down, due to a five-year low in drilling
activity, combined with weaker gains in retail sales and lower population
growth. But the service sector is still anticipated to grow strongly, boosting
overall economic growth to 3.3 per cent in 2008.
    Weakness in the United States is cause for concern for British Columbia's
forestry and manufacturing sectors, but the province's domestic economy
remains strong enough to produce real GDP growth of 3.1 per cent this year.
    The weakening trade balance will continue to erode bottom-line growth in
Ontario and Quebec, and more manufacturing layoffs are expected. Still,
healthy capital spending and decent income growth will support Ontario's
economy, producing growth of 2.1 per cent in 2008. The domestic economy in
Quebec is even more of a pillar of growth, thanks to federal and provincial
tax cuts that will boost consumption. As a result, Quebec's real GDP is
forecast to grow by 2.4 per cent. Both provinces can expect better
performances in 2009.
    In Nova Scotia, new private investment in capital projects and stronger
manufacturing prospects should add to a vigourous service sector, producing
growth of 2.6 per cent this year. New Brunswick will benefit from strong
mining and construction activity - offsetting difficulties in the forestry
sector - to produce growth of 2.2 per cent in 2008. Following a hiring boom in
2007, Prince Edward Island's economy will increase by a modest 1.9 per cent
this year, although tax reductions over the past 10 months will support income
growth.
    After growing by 7.3 per cent last year, Newfoundland and Labrador will
post growth of just 1.5 per cent in 2008, due to a decline in oil production.




For further information:

For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, (613) 526-3090
ext. 448, corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca; www.conferenceboard.ca


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