OTTAWA – Cities in Western Canada are expected to lead the country’s metropolitan areas in economic growth this year, a report by the Conference Board of Canada says.
Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver make up the top five in the board’s latest outlook for 13 Canadian metropolitan areas while Ottawa-Gatineau and Victoria are at the bottom of the list as government spending cuts take their toll.
Growth in Saskatoon is forecast to reach 5.2 per cent this year, up from 4.1 per cent in 2012, while Regina’s economy is expected to grow five per cent, repeating its performance last year.
“Despite some setbacks, Saskatchewan’s economy is expected to perform well in the near term, with real GDP forecast to expand 3.5 per cent this year — more than twice the national average,” board’s fall metropolitan outlook said.
Calgary is expected to grow by 3.3 per cent, Edmonton by 4.2 per cent and Vancouver by 2.2 per cent.
That compared with growth of 4.3 per cent, 5.9 per cent and 2.6 per cent for the three cities respectively in 2012.
“Despite some risks, Alberta’s economy will get a boost from the rebuilding effort after the floods and the infrastructure investment needed to accommodate increases in oil sands production,” the report said.
Meanwhile, Vancouver’s economy is being affected by slower growth in manufacturing and construction.
Overall the Conference Board said the Canadian economy is expected to grow by 1.7 per cent this year, however it suggested that the improving U.S. economy would give a boost to 2014.
“Through much of the first half of this year, economic indicators provided few encouraging signs. But recently, prospects seem to be changing for the better,” the Ottawa-based economics think-tank said.
The five Western Canadian cities stand in contrast with the other eight areas studied, which are expected to growth by less than two per cent this year.
In Toronto, which is expected to be hampered by weaker manufacturing and services sectors, growth will be limited to 1.6 per cent in 2013.
Halifax is forecast to post growth of 1.7 per cent, while Winnipeg is expected to grow by 1.4 per cent.
Montreal, Quebec City and Hamilton are each expected to grow about 1.3 per cent this year.
Ottawa-Gatineau is expected to expand by 0.8 per cent in 2013 due to spending cuts by the federal government.
Victoria is expected to grow by 0.1 per cent.