Canadian Manufacturing

Canada’s economic winners and losers

Central, western cities to see most activity: Conference Board

TORONTO―Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina will outperform other Canadian cities in economic growth this year, according to a new report by the Conference Board of Canada.

It expects Canadian GDP will grow two per cent this year and 2.7 per cent in 2012, with most of that action coming from cities in western and central Canada.

Growing demand for Saskatchewan resources will advance GDP in Saskatoon by 4.1 per cent while Regina will see a 3.1 per cent increase.

In Alberta, the energy sector will fuel GDP growth in Calgary and Edmonton by 3.4 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.

“We saw this story before the recession and now we’re seeing it again―the commodities boom and strong oil prices are boosting the fortunes of Western Canadian cities,” says Alan Arcand, principal economist with the board.

Arcand says Ontario cities won’t be too far behind on the economic scorecard.

Toronto’s GDP will expand by 2.8 per cent and Hamilton’s by 2.5 per cent with goods-producing industries accounting for much of the growth.

“Manufacturing in Ontario has been dealt one blow after another, from the recession to the jump in the Canadian dollar and oil prices. But things are improving,” Arcand says.

The board expects the province’s auto exports to grow 5.8 per cent this year as U.S. passenger vehicle sales hit 13.2 million.

“The U.S. economy is recovering and as manufacturing firms continue to adapt to reality, we expect the sector will see decent growth,” he adds.

Producers in other Canadian cities are also poised for a comeback, however modest.

“After struggling for years, Winnipeg’s manufacturing sector is going to benefit from the F-35 fighter jet program,” Arcand says.

GE Canada and StandardAero also recently announced plans to develop a $50-million engine-testing plant that will create more jobs in the city.

In Burnaby, B.C., Mercedes Canada is planning a $50-million plant to manufacture fuel cell stacks for its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Arcand also notes that aerospace manufacturing orders are increasing in Montreal and Bombardier recently signed several deals, including a $2.8-billion order with NetJet for 50 global business jets.

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