The regional disparities in Canada’s economy continue to widen, with resource-rich provinces outgrowing the rest of the country by leaps and bounds, new data from Statistics Canada shows.
StatsCan’s provincial and territorial accounts report, released Monday, provides the final, “official” numbers for provincial economic growth last year. And while western Canada largely dominated economic growth, the real pattern that emerged was somewhat different: Those that rely heavily on resources are now the “have” provinces, while those that rely on industry, agriculture or just about anything else, are becoming the “have not” provinces.
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The fastest-growing economy last year belonged to the Yukon Territory, which clocked a 6.5-per-cent growth rate on the strength of mineral exploration, StatsCan reported, with exports jumping 22 per cent. But being north of 60 is no guarantee of economic success: The Northwest Territories clocked the worst economic performance in Canada last year, seeing its GDP shrink 5.1 per cent on weak diamond exports.
In the Maritimes, the fastest-growing economy by far was Newfoundland, whose offshore oil wealth is quickly transforming the province from one of Canada’s poorest to one of Canada’s richest — at least in terms of the economic data. The province still has the highest ratio of job seekers to jobs in the country, making it a poor place to look for work.
Not so with Alberta, which led economic growth in Western Canada last year, at 5.1 per cent. Saskatchewan came in second in the west, at 4.9 per cent. Both provinces benefited from strong energy exports, allowing them to nearly double the 2.6 per cent growth rate for Canada as a whole.
Some economists have begun to express concerns about the economic imbalances caused by a booming energy sector and have begun to lament the loss of economic diversity that is taking place as Canada’s manufacturing sector struggles to grow while energy exports continue to grow.
A recent analysis of StatsCan data by HuffPost Canada found that oil, gas and mining are now worth nearly as much to the Canadian economy as all of manufacturing.
In terms of the value of its output, Canada’s manufacturing sector has bounced back from a long period of decline following the 2008 financial crisis. But the bounce-back has not brought back all the jobs: Canada’s manufacturing sector produces roughly as much as it did before the economic crisis, but with 200,000 fewer workers.
Check out this chart showing how manufacturing has declined as oil, gas and mining grew over the past decade: