Alberta's economy in a 'league of its own'

Newfoundland and Labrador's growth unsustainable due to declining population and weak consumer spending
||Last Updated: 08/22/2006

Alberta's economy is expected to grow by 6.6 per cent in 2006, and high energy prices mean that the torrid pace is unlikely to subside any time soon, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

"Among Canadian provinces, Alberta is in a league of its own," said Marie-Christine Bernard, an associate director with the Conference Board. "With oil prices expected to remain high over the next five years, Alberta's boom is not just a temporary phenomenon. It is a more permanent structural change, which is acting as a magnet for workers from other provinces."

Alberta can expect another strong year in 2007, with gross domestic product (GDP) forecast to grow by four per cent. However, labour shortages are affecting key industries and runaway construction costs could delay capital projects.

Thanks to strong mining output at Voisey's Bay and White Rose, Newfoundland and Labrador's economy is expected to grow by 4.6 per cent in both 2006 and 2007, the second biggest growth behind Alberta. However, the board predicts that this growth isn't sustainable because the province is suffering from a declining population, high unemployment and weak consumer spending.

Manitoba shows the third strongest growth thanks to its construction boom, which will boost GDP growth to 3.7 per cent, while high prices for British Columbia's natural resources are leading to GDP growth of 3.6 per cent in 2006.

In contrast to the other Western provinces, Saskatchewan's GDP growth is smaller at only 2.5 per cent due to a weak mining sector. The high dollar and plant closures will limit GDP growth in Ontario and Quebec to 2.5 and 2.1 per cent respectively.

The rest of the Eastern provinces have steady growth, with Nova Scotia's GDP growth expected to be 2.7 per cent. New Brunswick is expected to rebound from last year's weak growth of 0.5 per cent to 2.2 per cent this year thanks to increased industrial production and a stronger service industry. Strong construction activity and gains in agriculture and fisheries will push Prince Edward Island's economy to grow by 2.1 per cent.

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