Regina and Saskatoon will be the fastest growing metropolitan economies in Canada this year due to a thriving job market, according to a new report.
The growth of economies in Saskatchewan’s largest cities will even outpace booming Edmonton and Calgary, says the Conference Board of Canada’s Metropolitan Outlook for Winter 2013.
Saskatoon’s GDP is expected to grow 3.7 percent, with Regina trailing closely at 3.5 percent. Calgary and Edmonton are not far behind, with 3.3 and 3.2 percent expected growth respectively.
An overview of the GDP outlook for Canada’s top 10 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in order of rate of growth shows that Saskatoon is leading the country, followed by Regina, Calgary, and Edmonton in the Prairies, and Vancouver and Abbotsford-Mission in B.C.
Outside of Western Canada, Toronto is expected to have the fastest growing economy in 2013, at 2.8 percent, which will likely hold steady over the next four years, followed by Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Oshawa, and Moncton.
A thriving job market is attracting newcomers to the Prairie Provinces in droves, which boosts a diversity of industries in the economy—from real estate to retail trade, according to the Conference Board’s report.
Both Regina and Saskatoon attracted record numbers of newcomers in 2012.
— Mario Lefebvre, Conference Board of Canada
“Both Regina and Saskatoon attracted record numbers of newcomers in 2012. Migration is arguably one of the greatest success stories for these cities, with more and more Canadians choosing to call them home,” said Mario Lefebvre, director of the Centre for Municipal Studies at the Conference Board.
Recently released Statistics Canada figures show that the Prairie Provinces, especially Alberta, are benefiting from an influx of immigrants choosing Western Canada over the eastern regions.
This is a challenge for Eastern Canada, says Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS), because it is not only failing to attract as many immigrants, it is losing its own residents who are moving inter-provincially.
“In all migration there’s going to be push and pull factors—the push factor is that the economy is disproportionally weak in Ontario, and the pull is that it’s strong in Alberta,” he says.
Shift of Power West?
Six of the top 10 fastest growing CMAs are located in Western Canada, and census figures released last year show for the first time in history, more Canadians live west of Ontario than east of the province.
Along with the westward-moving demographic and economic figures, some say the political centre is shifting west as well.
But opinion on whether Canada’s political centre of gravity is shifting is divided, and as Jedwab notes, it depends on who you ask.
“People are divided around that issue,” he says, “The majority of Albertans actually agree that the focus or centre of power in Canada is moving, is heading west. Ontarians—they were the least likely to acknowledge that.”
According to a November 2012 survey done by Leger Marketing for ACS, Ontarians are the least likely (32 percent) to acknowledge that the shift of power west is “inevitable,” while Albertans are most likely to believe that is the case (51 percent).
Though these results may not be surprising, most other provinces, even in the east, were split down the middle on whether power is indeed shifting west.
In Quebec, 50 percent of respondents agreed that it is, along with 46 percent of Atlantic Canadians and 47 percent in Saskatchewan. British Columbians were more skeptical, with 35 percent in agreement that there is a shift of power west.
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