BUSINESS

St. John's Is Richer Than Toronto, And Other Surprising Facts From StatsCan's GDP Study

11/11/2014 09:10 EST | Updated 11/11/2014 09:59 EST
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Economic power in Canada is shifting to the west and to resource-producing areas, new data from StatsCan shows.

The agency’s analysis of gross domestic product (GDP) for Canada’s 33 major metro regions shows St. John’s, Nfld., is now richer than Toronto.

Thanks to offshore oil production, St. John’s rocketed up from 15th-wealthiest city in Canada in 2001 to fifth-wealthiest city by 2009. Toronto, during that time, fell from third place to seventh.

It’s a sign of just how much of a difference resource wealth can make -- and a sign of how unevenly that wealth is distributed. While St. John’s recorded an unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent in October, one of the lowest in the country, Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole had 12 per cent unemployment, by far the highest of any province.

The data overall shows a shift in economic power to the west, with Toronto and Montreal both falling in the rankings of cities with highest GDP and seeing their share of the national economy shrink as well.

Toronto’s share of Canada’s GDP fell to 18.6 per cent in 2009, from 19.6 per cent in 2001. Montreal’s share fell to 10.8 per cent in 2009, from 11.2 per cent in 2001.

Many western Canadian cities saw their share of the economy rise. Edmonton’s share of Canada’s economy rose to 4.7 per cent, from 3.8 per cent, while Regina and Saskatoon both grew their shares of the economy from 0.7 per cent to 0.9 per cent.

Vancouver’s share of the economy grew to 7 per cent of the Canadian total, from 6.6 per cent, while Calgary’s grew to 5.1 per cent from 4.2 per cent.

And the richest city in Canada? That would be Regina, with a per capita GDP of $65,404. (See slideshow below.)

OSHAWA’S ECONOMY COLLAPSES, BUT ITS HOUSING BOOMS

And the biggest loser? That crown belongs to the Toronto suburb of Oshawa, which, in the space of eight years, fell from seventh-richest city in Canada, to 32nd-richest city.

Oshawa’s GDP collapsed between 2001 and 2009, falling to $28,918 from $37,551, about a 23 per cent decline. The city, a manufacturing hub for General Motors, suffered immensely during the Great Recession and continues to struggle. And the analysis looks at 2001-2009, which was mostly before the economic collapse and the bankruptcy of General Motors.

And yet, despite what can only be called a depressed economy, Oshawa house prices are up 9.7 per cent in the past year, and home sales are up 5.7 per cent. The average house price in the region is now nearly $400,000. The market even showed signs of strength in the years immediately after the bankruptcy of General Motors.

Oshawa may be benefitting from nearby Toronto’s increasingly expensive housing market, but house price growth in Toronto is weaker than in Oshawa (up 8.9 per cent in the past year), begging the question: Why do Canada’s housing markets have almost nothing to do with the economy?

Here are the 20 richest cities in Canada, by GDP.

Canadian Cities By GDP