OTTAWA – A regional breakdown of economic performance suggests Canada’s two economies drifted even further apart in 2013.
Statistics Canada says in a new report that economic output improvement last year was heavily slanted toward resource-rich regions.
The gap between the West and the rest was even more pronounced, said Bank of Montreal economist Robert Kavcic, widening to almost two full percentage points.
Saskatchewan, which also benefited from a bump in the agriculture sector, posted a 4.8 per cent surge in gross domestic product in 2013, while oil-rich Alberta realized a 3.9 per cent growth rate.
Newfoundland and Labrador, which also has a resource-based economy, actually led the nation in GDP improvement with a booming 7.9 per cent acceleration, but that was somewhat misleading because it came in the wake of a 4.7 per cent slump in 2012.
Meanwhile, central Canada continued to struggle — Ontario and Quebec squeezing out mere 1.2 and 1.1 per cent growth rate — as did the Maritime provinces. New Brunswick had no GDP growth in 2013, Nova Scotia’s was a meagre 0.8 per cent and Prince Edward Island posted a slightly better 1.4 per cent advance.
For the country as a whole, the agency said the economy grew by 2.0 per cent, following a 1.8 per cent gain in 2012.
Last week, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz lamented that the recovery period had produced a “hot and not (hot) economy,” but said he was hopeful the turnaround in non-energy exports was coming. Still, he said even non-energy producing regions had benefited from what has been hot in the economy — oil.
BMO’s Kavcic also believes the gap will begin to close as a weaker loonie and stronger U.S. demand leads to more demand for manufactured exports from Ontario and Quebec.