RBC lowers Ontario's growth forecasts



    TORONTO, Oct. 12 /CNW/ - With a rebound not expected until 2009,
Ontario's economy is poised for growth of only 1.8 per cent in 2008, according
to a provincial economic outlook released today by RBC.
    "We've had to significantly lower our growth forecasts as heightened
currency-induced challenges to manufacturing and exports have greatly affected
the province's economy," said Craig Wright, vice-president and chief
economist, RBC. "As the U.S. economy improves, currency relief materializes,
major capital spending by the provincial government kicks in and new auto
sector investments swing into production, Ontario should see firmer growth in
2009."
    The RBC outlook indicated that the surging Canadian dollar, ongoing
strength in oil and other commodities, weaker U.S. growth and China's rising
share of the U.S. import market will mean a difficult 2008 for Ontario
manufacturers. The province's second biggest industry, forestry, also faces at
least another year of weak commodity prices and escalating costs.
    "Of the factors weighing on Ontario's economy, one stands out in
particular. The main concern for the provincial economy's long-term
competitiveness continues to be the crushing corporate tax burden that acts as
a sharp deterrent to investment," said Wright. "If Ontario were a country, it
would have the second highest tax burden on new investments compared to most
other major economies. Most of the tax collected is put towards funding very
rapid growth in short-term program spending by the government."
    The report argues that addressing the super-high tax burden would help
offset the upward currency pressures felt by Ontario businesses. While a
strong Canadian dollar has reduced costs of imported equipment by 60 per cent,
high tax rates have reduced the impact of this incentive to make investments
in the province.
    Across the provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to be the
growth leader this year, with Alberta moving into the lead in 2008, rivaled
only by Saskatchewan. Manitoba's steady growth and inflation rates will keep
it in the middle of the western provincial pack, and B.C.'s growth rate will
move slightly downward. RBC's forecast for Ontario's economy has been revised
downward to the bottom of the pack among all the provinces. Quebec should fare
somewhat better than Ontario next year, until currency depreciation, lower
energy prices, improvements in the U.S. economy, and capital spending lift
central Canada's manufacturers and exporters. While P.E.I.'s growth prospects
are modest, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are well-positioned for better 
long-run growth as a result of renewed prospects for several large-scale
capital projects.
    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
                  07     08     09     07     08     09     07     08     09
                  --     --     --     --     --     --     --     --     --
    NFLD.        7.5    0.5    1.0    2.4    2.1    1.8    9.5    6.0    2.0
    P.E.I        1.9    1.8    1.4    0.6    0.6    0.5    9.0    4.5    3.7
    N.S.         2.4    3.1    3.5    4.7    4.4    4.0    3.8    4.9    6.5
    N.B.         2.5    2.8    2.6    4.1    3.8    3.4    5.6    4.5    4.0
    QUE.         2.1    2.3    2.4   51.5   47.9   42.6    5.0    4.5    4.0
    ONT.         1.9    1.8    2.5   68.6   66.5   60.5    3.6    4.0    4.5
    MAN.         3.4    3.0    2.5    5.8    5.4    4.7    8.7    5.7    3.0
    SASK.        4.8    4.3    3.2    5.8    4.8    3.5   12.5    9.5    6.0
    ALTA.        5.0    4.5    3.0   48.5   41.2   35.0   10.5    9.8    8.5
    B.C.         3.1    2.9    2.8   37.2   32.3   26.8    7.2    6.3    8.0
    CANADA       2.7    2.5    2.6    230    210    184    6.0    5.6    5.5

                      Employment             CPI

                  07     08     09     07     08     09
                  --     --     --     --     --     --
    NFLD.        0.8    0.1    0.3    1.3    1.4    1.2
    P.E.I        1.3    0.4    0.2    1.5    1.7    1.6
    N.S.         1.3    1.2    2.0    1.7    1.3    2.0
    N.B.         2.0    0.8    0.9    1.8    1.4    1.6
    QUE.         1.9    0.9    0.8    1.9    1.6    1.5
    ONT.         1.4    0.9    1.0    2.0    1.8    1.7
    MAN.         1.4    1.0    0.4    2.4    2.1    1.8
    SASK.        2.4    1.0    0.8    3.0    3.0    2.3
    ALTA.        4.9    2.0    1.8    5.4    3.3    2.8
    B.C.         3.2    1.9    2.6    2.1    2.1    2.5
    CANADA       2.2    1.2    1.2    2.3    2.0    1.9
    





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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