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  • Canada’s Fossil-Fuelled Pensions June 22, 2018
    The British Columbia Investment Management Corporation is the steward of BC’s public pensions, but bankrolls companies whose current business models exceed the climate change targets agreed to in the Paris Agreement to which Canada is a signatory. The pensions of over 500,000 British Columbians and assets worth $135 billion are managed by the Corporation—-one of Canada's largest […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Imagine a Winnipeg...2018 Alternative Municipal Budget June 18, 2018
    Climate change; stagnant global economic growth; political polarization; growing inequality.  Our city finds itself dealing with all these issues, and more at once. The 2018 Alternative Municipal Budget (AMB) is a community response that shows how the city can deal with all these issues and balance the budget.
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Why would a boom town need charity? Inequities in Saskatchewan’s oil boom and bust May 23, 2018
    When we think of a “boomtown,” we often imagine a formerly sleepy rural town suddenly awash in wealth and economic expansion. It might surprise some to learn that for many municipalities in oil-producing regions in Saskatchewan, the costs of servicing the oil boom can outweigh the benefits. A Prairie Patchwork: Reliance on Oil Industry Philanthropy […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • What are Canada’s energy options in a carbon-constrained world? May 1, 2018
    Canada faces some very difficult choices in maintaining energy security while meeting emissions reduction targets.  A new study by veteran earth scientist David Hughes—published through the Corporate Mapping Project, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute—is a comprehensive assessment of Canada’s energy systems in light of the need to maintain energy security and […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • The 2018 Living Wage for Metro Vancouver April 25, 2018
    The cost of raising a family in British Columbia increased slightly from 2017 to 2018. A $20.91 hourly wage is needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Metro Vancouver, up from $20.61 per hour in 2017 due to soaring housing costs. This is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

GDP: Consumers to the Rescue

Following positive GDP numbers in April and May, Statistics Canada reported today that a sharp drop in June dragged Canada’s economic growth to a mediocre pace of 0.4% for the second quarter.

June’s declines in manufacturing and resource extraction did further damage to industries that had declined in April and May. Construction also declined in June, pulling the whole goods-producing sector into negative territory for the quarter. Goods production was hobbled by a continuing trade deficit and a reduction in business investment.

The service sector also turned negative in June, but remained strongly positive for the quarter, more than offsetting the goods-producing sector’s decline. Service industries benefited from upticks in consumer and government spending. In particular, household final consumption expenditure surged by 0.9% in the second quarter, its largest quarterly jump since 2010.

However, it is not clear that such consumer spending can be sustained in subsequent quarters, given record household debt and rising mortgage rates. Similarly, existing austerity policies and the federal government’s commitment to eliminate its deficit by 2015 for electoral reasons cast doubt on whether public expenditure will continue to support economic growth.

In summary, Canada eked out mediocre economic growth in the second quarter mainly because of a surge in consumer spending that seems unlikely to continue.

UPDATE (August 31): Quoted in today’s National Post (FP2), Montreal Gazette (C2), Ottawa Citizen (F1), Windsor Star (A15), Saskatoon StarPhoenix (B1), Edmonton Journal (C3) and Vancouver Sun (C2).

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