Provincial economic growth sluggish

OTTAWA — Only half of the provinces showed positive growth in real GDP last year, Statistics Canada reported on Monday.

OTTAWA — Only half of the provinces showed positive growth in real GDP last year, Statistics Canada reported on Monday.

Saskatchewan led the list, with growth of 4.4 per cent, while Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Manitoba also showed positive numbers.

The GDP fell in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, while New Brunswick was unchanged.

Yukon and Nunavut both saw higher GDP, while the Northwest Territories shrank.

The agency said national economic growth was sluggish during the first half of last year, then contracted during the last five months amid global financial turmoil.

It said goods production fell 2.8 per cent in 2008, the first decline since 2001, while services production increased 2.1 per cent.

Saskatchewan’s growth was almost double the 2.5 per cent increase in 2007. The statistics agency said the province’s farms basked in good weather. Potash and uranium production both dropped modestly in volume terms, but strong prices pushed corporate profits up 58 per cent.

In Alberta, a 0.2 per cent decline in real GDP followed a 3.1 per cent increase in 2007. Business investment dropped — especially in the housing sector — although high oil prices in the first part of the years kept corporate profits robust.

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