Canada’s economic growth ground to a halt in the fourth quarter of 2019. With the economy already on precarious footing, the added shocks of the recent rail blockade protests, the arrival of COVID-19, and a collapse in oil prices have brought the country to the brink of recession.
The Canadian economy grew by just 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019, its weakest performance since the second quarter of 2016. The sluggishness was the result of declines in business investment and exports, which were only partially offset by continued strength in consumer spending.
Now, with the economy being hit by a slew of additional shocks, we expect business investment and exports to post substantial declines and consumer spending to ease. As a result, economic growth will contract by a projected 2.7 per cent in the second quarter. However, growth should resume in the third quarter, allowing the economy to avoid a technical recession. Unfortunately, there are huge downside risks to our outlook due to the unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, we expect growth of just 0.3 per cent in 2020 followed by a rebound to 2.5 per cent growth in 2021.
Focus Area—Canadian Economics
Canada teeters on the brink of recession
(real GDP growth, per cent)
f = forecast
Sources: The Conference Board of Canada; Statistics Canada.