NEWS

Recession unfolds in Alberta, N.L., while B.C. powers ahead, economist predicts

05/28/2015 11:30 EDT | Updated 05/28/2016 05:59 EDT
Expect a recession this year in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador, while British Columbia will have the highest growth, according to a new outlook from the Conference Board of Canada.

There are "winds of change" blowing through the Canadian economy, it said, that will shift economic growth to Central Canada, Manitoba and B.C.

"The outlook is more upbeat in Quebec and Ontario than it has been in years," the report says.

"While flagship sectors, such as auto assembly and aerospace, face stiff external competition, exports in general will benefit greatly from the weaker loonie and better U.S. performance."

A combination of strong exports, especially of forestry and building products, and a hot housing market will have B.C. leading growth this year, with its GDP expanding by 3.1 per cent.

Tough times in Alberta, N.L.

Meanwhile, the oil-producing provinces are looking at tougher times, with Alberta's economy contracting by 0.7 per cent this year and N.L. expecting a 0.1 per cent contraction, caused mainly by stalled investment, the provincial outlook says.

Lack of new business investment, especially in the oil industry, will be a drag on economies as oil prices remain in the $60 range.

Conference Board economist  Marie-Christine Bernard points out that Canada's economy had a rough start this year, with the lack of oil and mining investment combining with weakening consumer demand and restraints on government spending to keep growth low.

She is projecting growth of 1.9 per cent for the whole Canadian economy, with the pace picking up in the last part of the year as the U.S. economy strengthens. Trade is expected to boost the economy in the later part of the year.

But the jobs picture is still lacklustre.

"We expect the economy to add just 172,000 jobs this year — another poor performance after 2014, which saw the weakest increase since 2009. Job growth is expected to accelerate in 2016 with 218,000 new jobs created," Bernard said.

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