Prairie provinces to lead in economic growth in 2008



    OTTAWA, Aug. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - The booming prairie provinces, Saskatchewan
and Manitoba, will lead the country in economic growth this year, according
the Conference Board's Provincial Outlook - Summer 2008.
    "While 'the west is the best' still holds true, attention this year has
shifted away from Alberta to Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as high prices for
nearly all of their natural resources will make them the two fastest-growing
economies in Canada," said Glen Hodgson, Senior Vice-President and Chief
Economist. "Resource-rich Saskatchewan is poised to enjoy another year of
stellar growth and Manitoba's economy remains unfazed by hardship in the U.S.
and Central Canada."
    Fuelled by sky-high commodity prices and a robust domestic economy,
Saskatchewan will lead all other provinces in economic growth this year, with
real gross domestic product (GDP) forecast to expand by 4.2 per cent. While
the economy will continue to perform well, real GDP growth is expected to
moderate to 2.8 per cent in 2009.
    Manitoba has been enjoying an exceptional period of solid economic growth
that has far outpaced its potential. A diversified manufacturing sector, large
capital investment projects, a strong housing market and high commodity prices
will fuel real GDP growth of 3.6 per cent in 2008.
    After expanding at a swift pace between 2004 and 2006, Alberta's economy
is settling down to a more sustainable rate of growth. Shortages of skilled
labour and a decline in drilling activity will constrain growth to
2.6 per cent this year. The province's economic outlook is expected to improve
in 2009, although growth is not expected to reach the levels observed in 2005
and 2006.
    British Columbia's economy is expected to moderate to growth of
2.2 per cent in 2008. While the province's economy is benefiting from strong
employment and wage growth, the hobbled forestry and manufacturing sectors
continue to be a drag on the economy.
    The downturn in the auto industry will limit Canadian exports and
constrain Ontario's economic growth to only 0.8 per cent this year. However, a
modest recovery in U.S. consumer demand should allow Ontario's GDP to rebound
to the national average of 2.7 per cent in 2009.
    The weakening trade balance will also restrict growth in Quebec. Strong
performance in the services sector will not offset weakness in the
manufacturing sector. Quebec's real GDP growth is forecast to dip to
1.4 per cent this year as the domestic economy moderates.
    The outlook in the Atlantic region will be greatly influenced by
investments in large capital projects. Nova Scotia will benefit from the
development of the Deep Panuke natural gas offshore field, resulting in real
GDP growth of two per cent in 2008. Despite persisting difficulties in
New Brunswick's manufacturing sector, strong construction activity will allow
real GDP to increase by two per cent in 2008. Prince Edward Island will
experience stable economic growth, with real GDP expanding by 2.2 per cent in
2008.
    Following stellar growth of 9.3 per cent last year, Newfoundland and
Labrador will post growth of just 0.2 per cent in 2008, due to a drop in oil
production. However, the province's labour market is growing at its highest
rate since 1999. Moreover, Newfoundland and Labrador is forecast to post real
GDP growth of 4.2 per cent in 2009, highest among the provinces.




For further information:

For further information: Yvonne Squires, Media Relations, (613) 526-3090
ext. 221, corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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