Alexandra Zabjek. CanWest News. Don Mills, Ont.: Mar 25, 2008.
EDMONTON- Recent economic uncertainty in Ontario and the United States will only serve to better highlight the phenomenal economic growth in Alberta, a western think-tank predicts.
The Canada West Foundation released on Tuesday its 2008 State of the West report, which is published every five years and provides economic and demographic statistics on Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
The report pinpointed Alberta as a "standout performer" in a region that has led the country in economic growth in recent years.
The report showed Alberta created one quarter of all new jobs in Canada in 2006 and 2007.
The province also enjoyed the country's highest after-tax median income in 2005, a position previously held by Ontario for almost two decades.
"When you piece it all together, the sheer force of the Alberta economy within the West and how it contrasts to the rest of the country . . . paints a picture of how much more action and activity there's been in this province," said Brett Gartner, a senior economist with the Canada West Foundation who authored the report.
"Especially now that there's uncertainty and some bad reports coming out of Ontario and quite a bit of pessimism about short-term prospects there, the contrasts (with the current state of the western economy) become even clearer."
The region will weather the downturn in the U.S. better than the rest of Canada will, Gartner said.
"I think those realities will become more clear to everyone when things get worse in Ontario, for example," he said.
The report examined statistics on topics such as economics, immigration, population growth, urbanization and employment for each of the four western provinces.
Gartner said no "earth-shattering" changes took place since the last State of the West report was released five years ago. However, as more of its residents have recently moved to Alberta than the other way around, Saskatchewan reversed a long-standing trend.
Saskatchewan is also expected to lead the region in overall economic growth in 2008 as the Alberta economy starts to cool, Gartner said.
"This year, I'm laying my money on Saskatchewan, as is virtually everyone else," he said, noting Alberta is still a far larger economy.
The optimism in Saskatchewan is being amplified by some of the economic uncertainties in eastern Canada, Gartner said.
"If everyone was doing well, you wouldn't pick them out of the crowd so much," he said.