Economic disparity widens between eastern and western cities

    OTTAWA, Sept. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The top seven fastest-growing
metropolitan economies in Canada this year are all located in the west,
according to the Conference Board's Metropolitan Outlook-Autumn 2007.
    "Although economic growth has been uneven between eastern and western
cities for several years, 2007 is turning out to be a year in which the
east-west disparity in economic growth is the greatest," said Mario Lefebvre,
Director, Metropolitan Outlook Service.
    Led by Saskatoon and Calgary, the western Canadian census metropolitan
areas (CMAs) covered in this outlook are expected to grow faster than all six
Eastern Canadian CMAs.
    With real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.7 per cent, Saskatoon
will dethrone Calgary as the fastest growing CMA economy in 2007. The
province-wide influx of interprovincial migrants into Saskatchewan-due to
lower costs of living and a strong overall economic performance-is benefiting
Saskatoon's housing sector. Housing starts in the CMA are forecast to reach
their highest level since 1983.
    Calgary, the leader among Canadian CMAs the past two years, will rank
second in 2007 with real GDP growth of 4.4 per cent. Although lower than last
year's spectacular 7.7 per cent gain, this year's pace of growth is more
sustainable. With all sectors of the economy performing well, employment
growth will remain strong, allowing consumer spending-specifically retail
sales-to increase by eight per cent in 2007.
    Winnipeg's economic engine is firing on all cylinders, and real GDP
growth is forecast to reach 3.7 per cent-the strongest performance since 1998.
The construction sector will be an important contributor, thanks to major
infrastructure spending and rising housing starts.
    Like Calgary, Edmonton's economy is not growing as fast this year as in
2006, but healthy growth of 3.6 per cent is still forecast. Construction
activity remains robust, particularly on the non-residential front, and
consumer spending continues to soar.
    Widespread gains are taking place in Regina this year, where overall
economic growth is expected to reach 3.5 per cent, the strongest rate of real
GDP growth in a decade.
    Following increases of 3.7 per cent each in 2006, the Vancouver and
Victoria economies will grow more moderately this year. In contrast to the
national trend, Vancouver's housing starts are on track to rise in 2007 and
non-residential construction is riding high. However, manufacturing output in
the CMA will barely grow in 2007. All in all, Vancouver's economy is expected
to grow by 2.9 per cent.
    Victoria continues to enjoy strong job creation and non-residential
construction, but a decline in housing starts and disappointing numbers of
American visitors will limit overall growth to 2.8 per cent.
    Further setbacks in the manufacturing sector are derailing the recovery
in economic growth in Eastern Canadian CMAs.
    The strong Canadian dollar and weak U.S. demand has dampened Toronto's
outlook. The 2.7 per cent growth forecast in 2007 is well short of its
economic potential. Strong employment growth outside the manufacturing sector
has kept retail sales robust.
    In contrast to most Eastern Canadian CMAs, Quebec City's manufacturing
sector grew in 2006 and early 2007. Moreover, new orders at the Davie shipyard
will bolster the manufacturing outlook in the short and medium term. However,
housing starts are shrinking, which will limit real GDP growth to 2.6 per cent
this year.
    Halifax's economy is forecast to expand by 2.5 per cent in 2007. Strong
growth in the services sector and a rebound in the manufacturing sector are
providing a boost to the overall outlook, but slow growth in the housing
market is weakening construction output.
    Ottawa-Gatineau is experiencing a modest economic slowdown this year, due
to the end of the federal government's hiring spree and sluggish activity in
the construction sector. Growth of 2.3 per cent is forecast for 2007.
    Ongoing weakness in the manufacturing sector is restraining Montreal's
economy. However, slightly higher growth in the services sector and major
non-residential construction projects will help to produce real GDP growth of
2.1 per cent in 2007.
    Although the services sector and construction activity are doing well,
the manufacturing outlook continues to drag Hamilton's economy down. All in
all, real GDP growth is forecast to come in at 1.3 per cent this year.
    This edition of the Metropolitan Outlook covers 13 of the larger Canadian
census metropolitan areas, the one or two largest in most provinces. A
forecast for 14 mid-sized Canadian CMAs-as well as the 13 cities covered in
this outlook-will be published in the Winter 2008 edition of the Metropolitan

For further information:

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

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