CALGARY - Canada's economic growth is being driven by resource-rich Western provinces, according to a Bank of Montreal report released Tuesday.

Alberta leads the pack, with the bank predicting 3.5 per cent real GDP growth this year, falling back a bit to 2.9 per cent in 2013.

"The energy sector remains the key driver of economic activity in the province, with crude bitumen production up 16 per cent year-over-year through the first half of the year, and the Energy Resources Conservation Board expecting oilsands output to more than double by 2021," said economist Robert Kavcic.

The energy sector's strength has attracted workers from elsewhere in Canada to Alberta, which has the country's lowest unemployment rate at 4.4 per cent.

But BMO Kavcic says the industry faces some risk.

"Cost pressures could again pick up, though oilsands operations are generally viewed as economical at prices above US$80 (per barrel)," he said.

"Also, wrangling over new pipeline capacity continues."

Production from the Bakken, a massive oil deposit that stretches through parts of Montana, North Dakota and Saskatchewan, is filling up existing pipelines and causing Canadian producers to get a lower price for the heavy crude they produce.

"Estimates suggest that production in Western Canada could be negatively impacted by 2015/16 if there is not enough new pipeline capacity put in place."

BMO says Canada's overall real GDP growth is expected to be 2.2 per cent in 2012, with the Western provinces all topping that rate.

Saskatchewan, where oil and gas extraction and potash and uranium mining are big economic drivers, is expected to see growth of 3.1 per cent this year.

For British Columbia, it sees real GDP growth of 2.5 per cent and for Manitoba, growth of 2.6 per cent.

Further east it's a different story. BMO sees Ontario posting growth of two per cent and the economies of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces growing at less than two per cent in 2012.

The report says fiscal restraint, the high loonie and sluggish U.S. demand are putting a damper on growth in Central Canada.

Kavcic noted some cause for optimism in Ontario's auto sector.

"Auto producers continue to invest in North America and, despite a strong currency and higher labour costs compared to the southern U.S. and Mexico, Ontario is no exception," he said.

"Toyota, for example, is expanding production at its Woodstock assembly plant — a project worth about $100 million and 400 jobs. Plus, the CAW and Big Three automakers recently reached new four-year contract agreements. Output in the auto sector was up a solid 20 per cent year-over-year through August."

Also Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecasts in its quarterly economic outlook.

The IMF predicts the global economy will expand 3.3 per cent this year, down from the estimate of 3.5 per cent growth it issued in July. Its forecast for growth in 2013 is 3.6 per cent, down from 3.9 per cent three months ago and 4.1 per cent in April.

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  • 10. Encana

    Brand value: $418 million Photo: Doug Suttles, president and CEO of Encana Natural Gas (The Canadian Press) Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 9. Canadian Natural Resources

    Brand value: $702 million Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 8. Syncrude

    Brand value: $933 million Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 7. Suncor

    Brand value: $936 million Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 6. Cenovus

    Brand value: $1.109 billion Photo: Brian Ferguson, president and CEO of Cenovus Energy (The Canadian Press) Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 5. TransCanada

    Brand value: $1.47 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 4. Husky

    Brand value: $1.607 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 3. Petro-Canada

    Brand value: $1.831 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 2. Esso (Imperial Oil)

    Brand value: $1.849 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 1. Enbridge

    Brand value: $4.726 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>


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  • 10. Oil And Gas Accounts For 4.8 Per Cent Of GDP

    The oil and gas industries accounted for around $65 billion of economic activity in Canada annually in recent years, or slightly less than 5 per cent of GDP. Source: <a href="http://www.ceri.ca/docs/2010-10-05CERIOilandGasReport.pdf" target="_hplink">Canada Energy Research Institute</a>

  • 9. Oil Exports Have Grown Tenfold Since 1980

    Canada exported some 12,000 cubic metres of oil per day in 1980. By 2010, that number had grown to 112,000 cubic metres daily. Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=9&SheetID=224" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>

  • 8. Refining Didn't Grow At All As Exports Boomed

    Canada refined 300,000 cubic metres daily in 1980; in 2010, that number was slightly down, to 291,000, even though exports of oil had grown tenfold in that time. Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=7&SheetID=104" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>

  • 7. 97 Per Cent Of Oil Exports Go To The U.S.

    Despite talk by the federal government that it wants to open Asian markets to Canadian oil, the vast majority of exports still go to the United States -- 97 per cent as of 2009. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>

  • 6. Canada Has World's 2nd-Largest Proven Oil Reserves

    Canada's proven reserves of 175 billion barrels of oil -- the vast majority of it trapped in the oil sands -- is the second-largest oil stash in the world, after Saudi Arabia's 267 billion. Source: <a href="http://www.ogj.com/index.html" target="_hplink">Oil & Gas Journal</a>

  • 5. Two-Thirds Of Oil Sands Bitumen Goes To U.S.

    One-third of Canada's oil sands bitumen stays in the country, and is refined into gasoline, heating oil and diesel. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>

  • 4. Alberta Is Two-Thirds Of The Industry

    Despite its reputation as the undisputed centre of Canada's oil industry, Alberta accounts for only two-thirds of energy production. British Columbia and Saskatchewan are the second and third-largest producers. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>

  • 3. Alberta Will Reap $1.2 Trillion From Oil Sands

    Alberta' government <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/27/alberta-oil-sands-royalties-ceri_n_1382640.html" target="_hplink">will reap $1.2 trillion in royalties from the oil sands over the next 35 years</a>, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

  • 2. Canadian Oil Consumption Has Stayed Flat

    Thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and a weakening of the country's manufacturing base, oil consumption in Canada has had virtually no net change in 30 years. Consumption went from 287,000 cubic metres daily in 1980 to 260,000 cubic metres daily in 2010. Source: Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=6&SheetID=99" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>

  • 1. 250,000 Jobs.. Plus Many More?

    The National Energy Board says oil and gas employs 257,000 people in Canada, not including gas station employees. And the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says the oil sands alone <a href="http://www.capp.ca/aboutUs/mediaCentre/NewsReleases/Pages/OilsandsaCanadianjobcreator.aspx" target="_hplink">will grow from 75,000 jobs to 905,000 jobs by 2035</a> -- assuming, of course, the price of oil holds up.