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B.C. to lead 2016 provincial economic growth: Conference Board


Mar. 8, 2016 – A new report by the Conference Board of Canada says strong economic growth in British Columbia is expected to lead to a wave of migration from provinces hit by low oil prices.

Following up on its solid performance of the last two years, the B.C. economy is expected to grow by 2.7 per cent thanks to its strength in housing, tourism and manufacturing, outpacing all other provinces in 2016, according to the Provincial Outlook: Winter 2016.

“British Columbia posted the strongest economic growth last year and, thanks to widespread gains, is expected to lead the provincial growth rankings over the next two years,” said Marie-Christine Bernard, associate director, Provincial Forecast.

Aside from B.C., only Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia can expect to see their economy grow by more than 2 per cent this year. Ontario’s economy is well positioned to advance by an estimated 2.4 per cent this year, just behind B.C., notes the Conference Board. The lower Canadian dollar and stronger growth in U.S. consumer demand will help boost Ontario’s exports, it predicts.

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The report forecasts net migration of roughly 20,000 people to B.C. this year as low oil and gas prices persist. According to the report, the province’s manufacturing sector is expected to benefit from the low loonie.

Alberta is expected to be hardest hit by the energy slump, with the economy forecast to contract by 1.1 per cent this year after a 2.9 per cent pullback last year.

“With oil prices continuing to feel the pressure of bloated global inventories and rising supply, the outlook is grim for the energy sector and Alberta’s economy as a whole,” said Marie-Christine Bernard, associate director of provincial forecasts at the Ottawa-based think tank.

— With files from The Canadian Press