BUSINESS

Who’s got top growth? Not Alberta.

NANCY MACDONALD May 12 2008
BUSINESS

Who’s got top growth? Not Alberta.

NANCY MACDONALD May 12 2008

Who’s got top growth? Not Alberta.

Alberta was knocked off its crown as Canada’s fastest-growing provincial economy, Statistics Canada said Monday. The western tiger’s three-year reign was ended as the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Newfoundland posted record growth rates for 2007. Thanks to domestic mining and high commodities prices, the economies of the two eastern territories jumped a staggering 13 per cent, while Newfoundland’s economy grew by nine per cent, due to oil and nickel production. (Yukon, which benefited from high copper and gold prices, posted a more modest growth rate of 3.8 per cent.)

“The three producing diamond mines contributed over $1.2 billion—over 31 per cent—of territorial GDP in 2007,” said a spokesperson with the N.W.T. premier’s office. “This activity leads to increased employment and higher average incomes in the N.W.T., and growth in our retail and wholesale sectors,” he said, adding that if the Mackenzie gas project was built, it would dwarf all other investment in the territory, heralding “a whole new era in the N.W.T.”

In Alberta, where exploration activity slowed for the second year in a row, growth cooled to 3.3 per centro ughly half its 2006 growth rate—putting provincial growth on par with Manitoba. So far, western and northern Canada have largely been spared the ill effects of the struggling U.S. economy. Not so in Ontario, where manufacturing output lagged for the third year running due to weaker U.S. demand, high energy prices and the rise in the price of the loonie. Overall, growth was just 2.1 per cent, as production dropped in 16 of 21 manufacturing industry groups. For the fourth consecutive year, growth in Ontario and Quebec has trailed the national average, which currently stands at 2.7 per cent. Indeed, a new TD Economics report projects that Ontario is set to become a have-not province, entitled to receive equalization payments within a couple of years—perhaps the clearest indicator thus far of the shifting sands of economic power in Canada. M

NANCY MACDONALD