Slumping oil, iron ore prices continue to affect development: report

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – A new report says the sharp drop in oil and iron ore prices continues to have an impact on development activity in Atlantic Canada, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council’s says in its report that spending on major projects this year is expected to total $13.3 billion in the region.

That is down five per cent from last year and the group expects it to continue to slide next year.

The leading project spending is being led by work on the Hebron oil project, the Muskrat Falls and Maritime Link electricity projects, and the Arctic Offshore Patrol ships in Halifax.

The council’s director of major projects, Patrick Brannon, says spending this year is up slightly in the three Maritime provinces, but down nine per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Brannon suggested on Monday there might be a need for infrastructure spending by Ottawa to help boost the economy.

“Growth in the economy is sluggish across Canada in 2015 and may not improve much in 2016. It may be up to the federal government to play a greater role in stimulating the economy with increased infrastructure spending,” he said in a news release. “Without increased federal support, Atlantic Canada is likely to see further declines in major project spending over the next few years.”

The group catalogues 408 major investment projects across Atlantic Canada, with the total value at $129 billion.