By Alex Lambert
Saskatchewan is expected to overtake Alberta as Canada’s fastest-growing economy in 2013-2014, The Conference Board of Canada said this week.
The provincial economic forecast, known as Provincial Outlook-Autumn 2012, said Saskatchewan’s new-found ability to compete with Alberta’s economy is mainly due to mining in the province, particularly its growing potash industry.
The forecast also contains a number of other findings on Canada’s provincial economies, a lot of which shows that GDP growth in Canada’s provinces is sluggish.
“Canada’s economy is muddling through the second half of 2012 and into 2013,” Marie-Christine Bernard, The Conference Board of Canada’s associate director of provincial outlook, said in a press release. “The weakness has been relatively broad-based across industries, as the struggles of the global economy have hit home.”
Economic growth in Alberta and Saskatchewan is expected to remain at three per cent or more through 2014.
For 2012, growth in Alberta is predicted to lead the provinces for a second year in a row, and the province’s GDP, which is still mainly driven by oil sands development, is expected to expand by 3.4 per cent.
GDP in Saskatchewan is projected to grow by three per cent in 2012.
Todd Crawford, a senior economist with The Conference Board of Canada, told Humber News that Saskatchewan potentially overtaking Alberta for fastest-growing economy is relative to the size of the provinces’ economies.
“Even when we talk about Saskatchewan potentially overtaking Alberta, it says nothing poor about Alberta whatsoever, it’s just a factor of the way the numbers work,” Crawford said.
The Albertan economy is not declining, it’s just bigger than that of Saskatchewan so it’s harder for it to have such large GDP gains, he said.
“It’s easier for Saskatchewan to generate quicker growth because the economy is smaller,” Crawford said.
“Alberta and Saskatchewan happen to sit on top of some of the biggest resources that Canada owns,” Crawford said, explaining the focus on resource development in Alberta and Saskatchewan is what makes their GDP grow faster than other provinces.
B.C., Manitoba growing, as well
The report also has good news for the economies of British Columbia and Manitoba.
Due to good employment growth, increasing consumer confidence and improvements to U.S. housing demand, B.C.’s economy is expected to grow by 2.7 per cent in 2013, with a similar rate predicted for 2014.
A good year for agriculture and gains in a number of industries account for Manitoba’s projected growth for 2012, which sits at 2.5 per cent, and growth above two per cent is expected for the next two years.
Despite projected growth of only 1.8 per cent in 2012, there’s good news for Ontario, too.
Increased U.S. vehicle demand has boosted the province’s manufacturing exports, companies have been making use of Canada’s strong dollar to invest in their operations and the growth of Ontario’s economy is expected to pick up over the next couple years.
Growth in Atlantic Canada and Quebec was tepid in 2012, but small gains are forecast for 2013-2014, the report said.
Low growth of exports, tax hikes and a poor job market stunted economic growth in Quebec for 2012, which sits at 0.9 per cent.
Growth in Atlantic Canada has been rather slow this year, with P.E.I. having the highest growth for 2012, at 1.1 per cent.
Nova Scotia will see growth of 0.6 per cent, New Brunswick will grow 0.5 per cent, and due to a decline in oil and gas production and mining, Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy is projected to wane in 2012, at only 0.7 per cent growth.