Canada turns a corner

Canada’s painful recession appears close to an end after the economy received two key votes of confidence Monday suggesting the turnaround — albeit modest — is just around the corner.

OTTAWA — Canada’s painful recession appears close to an end after the economy received two key votes of confidence Monday suggesting the turnaround — albeit modest — is just around the corner.

The Bank of Canada’s summer survey of businesses revealed a surprisingly upbeat mood among Canada’s leading executives, with 61 per cent expecting improved conditions and 39 per cent planning to start hiring in the upcoming 12 months.

And the Conference Board of Canada’s newest quarterly forecast calls for the recession to finally end this summer, setting the stage for a better-than expected 2.7-per-cent output rebound next year.

Both reports confirm the new emerging consensus among analysts that what has been termed the Great Recession of 2008-09 is winding down after exerting tremendous damage to workers, businesses, equities and homeowner wealth.

Realty firm ReMax reported that attractive prices and mortgage rates continued to revive house sales in June, with the largest markets of Toronto and Vancouver posting strong gains. The real estate company said most centres are now predicting year-end sales on par or ahead of 2008 levels.

There remain quibbles among economists about the specific end point of the recession, and the size of the rebound.

But there is now a wide consensus that the recession is petering out and that the recovery, when it comes, will be sluggish or very sluggish, said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist with BMO Capital Markets.

Canada has lost about 370,000 jobs since October.