01/11/2012 12:28 EST | Updated 01/11/2012 12:45 EST

Conference Board of Canada: West To Top Economic Growth, As Austerity Hits The East


OTTAWA - Cities in Western Canada will lead the country in growth and prosperity over the next couple of years, according to an outlook released Wednesday by the Conference Board of Canada.

Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Regina are at the top of the Ottawa-based economic forecaster's new metropolitan outlook.

Next year, Vancouver joins the leaders and Toronto ties Regina for fifth place in the outlook.

The Conference Board says western cities are benefitting from resource riches and attracting migrants, boding well for housing and consumer spending

Edmonton created almost 40,000 new jobs last year alone, the think-tank says.

"In spite of global economic turmoil, high prices for agricultural products, minerals and oil are likely to continue," said Mario Lefebvre, director of municipal studies for the Conference Board.

"Canada's Prairie cities will reap the benefits of this global demand for commodities."

Central Canadian cities won't do nearly as well with manufacturing continuing to struggle amid the global slowdown, and government cutbacks weighing on growth domestically.

The Conference Board says the federal government's austerity measures for the civil service will result in a cumulative loss of 9,000 jobs over two years, restraining Ottawa-Gatineau's growth to 1.8 per cent in 2012.

At the bottom of the list in terms of growth this year is St. John's, N.L., the Conference Board says, as Newfoundland and Labrador's waning offshore oil production starts rippling through the rest of the economy.

The consolation prize is that St. John's is coming off two spectacular years of growth, including a 5.4 per cent advance in 2011 that was highest in the country.


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