Alberta and Saskatchewan lead provincial growth in 2011; NWT sees declines

OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says Alberta led the provinces in economic growth in 2011, followed closely by Saskatchewan.

The Canadian economy as a whole expanded 2.6 per cent in 2011, slowing somewhat after a 3.4 per cent expansion in 2010.

But in Alberta, the economy picked up speed. It surged 5.2 per cent last year, after a more tepid 3.3 per cent expansion a year earlier, buoyed by high energy prices that encouraged extraction and exploration in the oil and gas patch.

Saskatchewan’s economy grew 4.8 per cent from the previous year, thanks to strong export demand for its natural resources.

The most populous province, Ontario, saw sluggish 2.0 per cent growth in 2011, led by mining and exploration, as well as manufacturing.

In the other provinces GDP grew 2.8 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador, 1.1 in Prince Edward Island, 0.3 in Nova Scotia, 0.1 in New Brunswick, 1.7 per cent in Quebec, 1.1 in Manitoba, and 2.9 in British Columbia.

The only part of the country to see an outright contraction was Northwest Territories, where economic output dropped 5.5 per cent, led by a big decline in diamond mining.

In the other two territories, the Yukon saw 5.6 per cent growth amid record levels for gold and silver exploration. In Nunavut, where output of gold and silver ore mining increased for a second consecutive year, GDP rose 7.7 per cent.