Quebec Economy to See Average Recovery in 2010 - BMO



    MONTREAL, June 25 /CNW/ - The Quebec economy has succumbed to global
recessionary forces after holding up relatively well early in the downturn,
according to the Provincial Outlook report by BMO Capital Markets Economics.
    "Real GDP will likely contract a better-than-average 1.6 per cent this
year, before experiencing an average 1.9 per cent recovery in 2010," according
to Robert Kavcic, Economist, BMO Capital Markets.
    Manufacturing activity in the province held up well through most of 2008
thanks to strength in aerospace, but by the turn of the year, activity
deteriorated sharply as global demand tailed off. Manufacturing shipments fell
more than 11 per cent year-over-year in the first four months of 2009, the
steepest decline since at least the early 1990s.
    Job losses have also begun to mount in the province, not only because of
shrinking private-sector payrolls, but also due to a slowdown in public-sector
hiring. As such, the unemployment rate has quickly moved higher, and will
likely top 9 per cent in 2010. Still, the slackening of Quebec's labour market
is modest compared to that in Western Canada and Ontario, the latter of which
now has a higher unemployment rate for the first time since at least the early
1970s. Rising unemployment has cooled what had been relatively strong consumer
and housing activity in the province, but both retail sales and home prices
continue to fare better than the national averages.
    One pillar of support that should remain in place is nonresidential
construction. The Quebec government has embarked on a five-year, $41.8 billion
infrastructure spending program (almost 3 per cent of GDP in fiscal 2009/10)
that will continue to drive growth, as will ongoing investments by
Hydro-Quebec.
    The government is projecting four years of deficits as it temporarily
applies the fiscal accelerator in an attempt to counter deteriorating economic
conditions. The fiscal 2009/10 deficit is pegged at $3.9 billion or 1.3 per
cent of GDP-less than half the size of the deficits seen in the early-1990s.
    The government has a five-year fiscal and economic plan that outlines a
path to return to surplus by fiscal 2013/14. To achieve this goal, it will
limit program spending growth to 3.2 per cent per year starting in fiscal
2010/11, increase the Quebec Sales Tax by 1 percentage point to 8.5 per cent
(effective January 2011) and index user fees to inflation.
    The complete report can be found at www.bmocm.com/economics.




For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Lucie Gosselin, Montreal,
lucie.gosselin@bmo.com, (514) 877-8224; Internet: www.bmo.com


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