Ontario's economy weakens against strong Canadian dollar: RBC Economics



    TORONTO, June 22 /CNW/ - A sharply stronger Canadian dollar is expected
to continue to pressure Ontario's economy with solid growth not expected until
2009, according to a new provincial forecast released today by RBC.
    "With a provincial election looming and a supercharged Canadian dollar,
Ontario's economy and growth prospects face some major challenges over the
coming quarters," said Craig Wright, vice-president and chief economist, RBC.
"We have revised our forecast downward as a recovery is now further down the
road than previously expected and we see modest growth of only 1.9 per cent
this year and 2.7 per cent in 2008."
    RBC said a weak U.S. housing market, a strong Canadian dollar, and a
crushing corporate tax burden are challenging the province's struggling
manufacturing sector, which accounts for one-in-five dollars of economic
activity in Ontario. Northern Ontario's beleaguered lumber, pulp and paper
mills also face further painful adjustments. Net trade is likely to soften as
exports suffer and imports benefit from the dollar's greater purchasing power.
The province's net trade surplus has dropped from $55 billion in 2001 to
$28.9 billion in 2006, and will likely head even lower.
    However, by 2009, Ontario should start to see some economic relief as
auto production is expected to rise 14 per cent with new Japanese-owned
automotive assembly plants coming online. A strong services sector, improved
government finances, increased mining activity in the north and better
agricultural prospects should combine to help boost the province's outlook
down the road.
    Across Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador will be the provincial growth
leader in 2007 at 7.5 per cent before experiencing a dramatic pull back next
year, shifting the spotlight back onto the more sustainable growth in Western
Canada. Prince Edward Island and Ontario will be at the back of the pack, each
with growth rates just shy of two per cent this year.

    The RBC Economics Provincial Outlook assesses the provinces according to
economic growth, employment growth, unemployment rates, personal income
growth, retail sales, housing starts, and the Consumer Price Index.
    According to the report (available online as of 8 a.m. E.D.T., at
www.rbc.com/economics/market/pdf/provfcst.pdf), provincial forecast details
are as follows:

    
                      Real GDP          Housing starts        Retail sales

                                          Thousands
                  06     07     08     06     07     08     06     07     08
                  --     --     --     --     --     --     --     --     --
    NFLD.        2.8    7.5    0.5    2.2    2.0    1.8    2.9    5.5    2.0
    P.E.I.       2.0    1.9    1.7    0.7    0.6    0.6    4.1    4.5    3.7
    N.S.         1.1    2.4    2.3    4.9    4.5    4.4    6.3    3.1    3.3
    N.B.         2.6    2.5    2.6    4.1    3.8    3.7    5.5    3.9    4.0
    QUE.         1.7    2.1    2.6   47.9   42.1   39.6    4.5    4.7    4.8
    ONT.         1.9    1.9    2.7   73.4   63.9   60.0    4.0    3.5    4.9
    MAN.         3.3    3.0    3.2    5.0    5.3    4.4    5.8    6.1    6.0
    SASK.        0.4    4.0    3.6    3.7    4.6    3.9    5.9    7.4    6.0
    ALTA.        6.8    4.6    4.0   49.0   44.8   39.9   16.0    9.3    8.5
    B.C.         3.6    3.2    3.3   36.4   35.3   31.1    6.2    6.0    5.8
    CANADA       2.8    2.6    2.9    228    208    190    6.2    5.2    5.2


                     Employment              CPI

                  06     07     08     06     07     08
                  --     --     --     --     --     --
    NFLD.        0.7    1.2    0.1    1.8    2.0    1.4
    P.E.I.       0.6    0.8    0.4    2.3    1.5    1.7
    N.S.        -0.3    1.1    0.3    2.0    1.4    1.3
    N.B.         1.4    0.8    0.4    1.7    1.5    1.4
    QUE.         1.3    2.0    0.9    1.7    2.3    1.8
    ONT.         1.5    1.3    1.0    1.8    2.1    2.1
    MAN.         1.2    1.1    0.9    2.0    2.3    2.5
    SASK.        1.7    3.0    1.0    2.1    3.5    2.8
    ALTA.        4.8    4.2    2.0    3.9    5.2    3.5
    B.C.         3.1    3.0    1.9    1.7    2.2    2.3
    CANADA       2.0    2.0    1.2    2.0    2.4    2.2
    





For further information:

For further information: Craig Wright, RBC Economics, (416) 974-7457;
Derek Holt, RBC Economics, (416) 974-6192; Jackie Braden, RBC Media Relations,
(416) 974-2124


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