Saskatoon and Regina top Canadian cities in economic growth



    OTTAWA, Sept. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Buoyed by their strongest rates of
economic growth in more than a decade, Saskatoon and Regina rank first and
second among Canadian census metropolitan areas (CMAs) this year, according to
the Conference Board's Metropolitan Outlook-Autumn 2008.
    "Both Saskatoon and Regina are on track to post their strongest rates of
economic growth since 1997, and Saskatoon will lead Canadian CMAs in economic
growth for the second consecutive year," said Mario Lefebvre, Director, Centre
for Municipal Studies. "Western Canadian CMAs occupy the top seven rankings in
this edition of the Metropolitan Outlook. In contrast, Ontario CMAs are
experiencing their weakest growth in more than a decade."
    After growing by 4.1 per cent in 2007, Saskatoon's real gross domestic
product (GDP) is projected to expand by an even faster rate of 5.2 per cent in
2008. Saskatoon's flourishing economy can be attributed to its position as a
key regional centre for the province's booming resource sector.
    The resource sector boom is also lifting economic growth in Regina, which
is expected to reach 4.1 per cent this year, the most since 1997. Almost 3,000
people moved to the provincial capital in 2007, and net migration is expected
to remain positive over the next few years, helping to fuel robust domestic
demand.

    Winnipeg's economy is expected to expand by 3.3 per cent in 2008, on the
heels of a 3.7 per cent expansion in 2007. Burgeoning construction activity
and vigorous wholesale and retail trade growth are driving the CMA's outlook.

    Victoria's economy is also on pace to grow by 3.3 per cent in 2008,
thanks to robust non-residential construction activity and healthy levels of
consumer spending.

    Economic growth in Calgary and Edmonton is forecast to slow to 3.2 per
cent and 3.1 per cent, respectively, in 2008-modest growth only by their
standards. Domestic demand remains strong in both CMAs, and high oil and gas
prices mean that energy-related investments will continue. Between 2009 and
2012, Calgary and Edmonton are expected to regain first and second place in
average annual real GDP growth.

    Vancouver's economy is forecast to grow by 2.7 per cent this year.
Although the primary and manufacturing sectors are struggling, Olympic and
non-Olympic construction activity remains robust. Domestic demand is also an
area of strength, as retail sales are experiencing their third straight year
of solid growth.

    At 2.4 per cent, Halifax is forecast to post the strongest economic
growth east of Manitoba. The manufacturing sector is expanding in spite of the
high dollar, while non-residential construction activity is strong and the
services sector is also posting solid gains.

    Quebec City's economy, which expanded by 3.1 per cent in 2007, is
forecast to grow by a more moderate 2.3 per cent in 2008. The 400th
anniversary celebrations have bolstered tourism activity, but this is being
offset by weakness in the goods-producing industries, in particular
manufacturing and construction.

    Ottawa-Gatineau's economy is on track to post its lowest rate of growth
in over a decade this year, as total GDP is forecast to rise by only 1.8 per
cent. Growth in the high-tech sector has stalled and construction activity has
been weak. However, strong growth in public sector employment has helped to
stabilize the CMA's economy.

    Economic growth in Montreal is projected to reach 1.7 per cent in 2008,
the lowest pace in five years. With the exception of the aerospace industry,
the manufacturing sector continues to struggle. On a positive note,
construction and services industries have been posting steady gains.

    Like Montreal, output in Toronto's manufacturing sector is expected to
fall again this year. On the bright side, construction activity remains solid
and domestic demand continues to hold its own. Nevertheless, real GDP growth
is forecast to reach just 1.3 per cent in 2008.

    With its key manufacturing sector hurting, Hamilton's economy is on track
to record its worst performance since the early 1990s. Real GDP growth is
forecast to come in at a meagre 0.3 per cent in 2008.

    The Metropolitan Outlook, published quarterly, provides a medium-term
forecast for 27 Canadian CMAs. In the Autumn 2008 edition of the forecast, 13
of Canada's largest CMAs are covered.




For further information:

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


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