Western provinces face challenges to future competitiveness

    SASKATOON, June 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Despite showing strong economic growth
in recent years, Western Canada will need to improve productivity and address
labour shortages to maintain its economic strength over the long term,
according to a Conference Board of Canada report released today.
    "In recent years, Canada's economic centre of gravity has shifted west,
so all Canadians have a stake in the performance of the Western provinces. The
Western provinces have operated at close to their economic potential over the
past 15 years, but they trail international leaders on many of the key drivers
of competitiveness. Without planning and action today, future economic growth
in Western Canada could suffer," said Paul Darby, Deputy Chief Economist of
the Conference Board.
    This report identifies two long-standing challenges to future economic
performance in the Western provinces: lagging productivity growth and labour
force shortages. Steps are already being taken in the Western provinces to
overcome these challenges, and the findings in this study are intended to help
set policy priorities, and encourage actions that will benefit all Canadians.
    This study, Western Canada: Productivity, Competitiveness, and Potential,
benchmarks each province individually against comparator regions-including
geographic neighbours, trading partners, competitors and global leaders-on
five building blocks of competitiveness:

    - productivity,
    - innovation,
    - investment,
    - human capital, and
    - the business environment.

    The study also estimates the economic potential for each province over
the long term. It identifies that the two key barriers to future economic
growth across the west are weak productivity growth and labour force shortages
primarily due to an aging population.

    Western Economic Diversification Canada is the lead investor in the
study. Funding for the research also came from the British Columbia Ministry
of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development, Enterprise
Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Ministry of Finance, Manitoba Department of
Competitiveness, Training and Trade, and Alberta Finance and Enterprise.

    The study is available at www.e-library.ca. View the <a href="http://www.conferenceboard.ca/press/newsrelease/10-06backgrounder.aspx">backgrounder</a> for
each province's comparator regions and benchmarking results.

For further information:

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

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