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Economic Outlook Positions Ontario as One of the Growth Leaders

Mixed performances across the country as the swift correction in oil prices changes economic outlook

Ottawa, February 23, 2015—The sudden collapse in oil prices has significantly altered the economic landscape in Canada and around the world. While some provinces will be negatively impacted, Ontario joins Manitoba and British Columbia as economic growth leaders this year, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s Provincial Outlook: Winter 2015.

“Ontario, with its minor exposure to the oil and gas extraction sector, is expected to receive a significant economic boost in the short term,” said Marie-Christine Bernard, Associate Director, Provincial Forecast. “Ontario’s economy is projected to grow by 2.9 per cent this year, bolstered by strong exports and consumer spending—the first year since 2002 in which economic growth in Ontario outpaces the national average of 1.9 per cent.”


  • Ontario joins Manitoba and British Columbia as economic growth leaders fuelled by the lower Canadian dollar, stronger U.S. economy and stronger consumer confidence.
  • Swift correction in oil prices will hurt other provinces like Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan.
  • Nationally, economic growth will be just 1.9 per cent in 2015, down from 2.4 per cent in 2014.

Consumer confidence is likely to increase as Ontario households could have up to $1,000 more in discretionary income in 2015, as a result of prices at the pump. While Ontarians will likely save some of it or pay down existing debt, much of it is expected to be spent on goods and services, providing a boost for real consumer spending in the province.

Ontario’s exporters will continue to benefit from increased demand from a healthy U.S. economy, which is set to grow by 3.2 per cent in 2015. This, coupled with the combination of low oil prices, the Bank of Canada’s recent interest rate cut, and a weaker Canadian dollar should render Ontario’s products more competitive, boosting exports to south of the border.

bar chart of real GDP by province in 2015

For most provinces, growing public debt and fiscal deficits will remain a challenge this year. Federal and provincial government revenues will feel the squeeze from reduced nominal GDP growth. Resource-dependent provinces like Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador will also be forced to deal with substantially lower-than-expected resource royalty revenues. As governments work to control rising deficits, a new round of expenditure control is expected.

The sharp decline in capital expenditures in the oil industry will dampen the economic forecast for Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The slowdown in Alberta’s energy sector will have far reaching consequences as many of the workers who flew in and out of the province for oil and construction work may now be unemployed,” added Bernard. “It is estimated that $374 million in income was generated in Atlantic Canada from commuting workers.”

With the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, the economic outlook is improving for Atlantic Canada. After some difficult times in the resource and manufacturing sectors, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are expected to finally see more solid economic growth.

The downturn in oil producing provinces is expected to be relatively short lived as prices are expected to rise gradually as the global oil glut eases and global demand improves later this year and in 2016.

The Conference Board of Canada will host a webinar, Canada’s Fiscal and Economic Outlook: Small Winners, Bigger Losers, on March 13, 2015 11:00 AM EST.

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