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Uneven Economic Outlook for Canadian Provinces in 2019

Weakened growth expected in Central Canada, Manitoba and Alberta—while Atlantic Canada, B.C. and Saskatchewan will see increases

Ottawa, February 27, 2019 — According to The Conference Board of Canada’s Provincial Outlook: Winter 2019, weakening growth in both consumer and government spending is impacting provincial economies. Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta will experience more modest economic growth this year. However, other provinces will enjoy stronger growth despite current uncertainties, including P.E.I., which is leading with an expected growth rate of 3.2 per cent in 2019.

“The Conference Board of Canada expects Canada’s GDP to advance by 1.9 per cent in 2019. Overall, the outlook is mixed, with growth slowing in many regions of the country including Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, and the same is expected in 2020,” said Marie-Christine Bernard, Director, Provincial Forecast. “On the other hand, Atlantic Canada, Saskatchewan and B.C. will enjoy an increase in growth this year—despite the fact that there is easing in consumer and government spending.”


Highlights from The Conference Board of Canada’s Provincial Outlook: Winter 2019:

  • With an influx of international migrants supporting strong growth in residential construction and elevated demand for P.E.I. products boosting exports and manufacturing, the Island’s real GDP is expected to grow by 3.2 per cent in 2019, making it the only Canadian province where economic growth surpasses the 3 per cent mark this year.

  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy will get a boost from rising oil production, and mineral fuels mining will again be a key contributor to the province’s bottom-line along with capital projects under development. This will help the provincial economy advance by 2.7 per cent in 2019.

  • More stability in the services sector and stronger exports in Nova Scotia will help support economic growth. Export growth is expected to remain healthy, which in turn will help the transportation and warehousing sector. Nova Scotia’s real GDP growth is expected to reach 1.6 per cent this year, up from 0.9 per cent in 2018.

  • New Brunswick will also benefit from more stability in the services sector and stronger exports will boost economic growth. Despite the province’s weak demographic profile, economic growth is forecast to improve from just 0.2 per cent last year to 1.4 per cent this year.

  • Quebec’s economic growth is forecast to dip below 2 per cent this year, falling to 1.8 per cent as the aging of its population and the resulting rise in retirements from the workforce leave many positions unfilled and weigh on the ability of the province to match the robust economic growth of the past two years.

  • Ontario will see some of the strongest job growth among all the provinces in 2019. Nevertheless, fuelled by weakening but still sound growth in investment and consumer demand, Ontario’s overall economic growth is forecast to slow from 2.4 per cent in 2018 to 2.1 per cent this year.

  • Manitoba’s economy is expected to grow by 1.6 per cent this year. However, the province’s economic growth is forecast to drop below 1 per cent next year as major projects contribute less to investment and planned shutdowns of several mining operations weigh on the provincial economy.

  • Saskatchewan’s trade sector will get a boost from increased global demand for key commodities, such as potash, oil and agricultural products. This will help lift the province’s economic growth to 2.2 per cent this year.

  • Economic growth in Alberta will slow to 1.3 per cent this year largely due to the cuts in oil production and the declines in energy investment. Despite the uncertainty in the energy sector, employment in the province is forecast to increase by 1.1 per cent this year.

  • British Columbia’s economy will benefit from strong investment in the energy sector, which will help offset a correction in the housing market. Overall, the province is forecast to post real GDP growth of 2.5 per cent this year.

The Provincial Outlook is our quarterly two-year economic forecast of the 10 provinces, including GDP, output by industry and labour market conditions.

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