TD Bank says in a quarterly report that it expects Ontario to lead Canada in economic growth next year as more resource-dependent provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan slow down.
After leading the country by a wide margin with four per cent growth in 2014, Alberta is projected to step back into third place with 2.3 per cent growth next year.
That’s just behind Ontario and British Columbia, which are looking to set the pace for the country with 2.5 per cent and 2.4 per cent growth respectively.
- Canadian oil price staying comparatively strong amid global crude sell-off
- Canada is losing out on billions from plunging oil
The backdrop for this change in fortunes is the precipitous decline in oil prices, which are off almost 50 per cent from their summer highs. That’s a stark change for oil-rich Alberta, which had been Canada’s engine of job growth and wealth creation for the better part of a decade.
“Crude oil prices have suffered a stunning drop, which will represent an income transfer from the oil-producing to the oil-consuming regions of the country,” TD Bank said.
Although the bank foresees oil settling into a range between $60 and $65 US a barrel next year, right now the price of the North American benchmark is below that, in the mid $50 range. That’s dragging the Canadian dollar down at the same time, which has a positive influence on Canada’s economy (since it makes Canadian goods and services cheaper for foreign markets to buy.)
The bank foresees a floor of about 84 cents US for the loonie next year. That’s a little lower than the 87-cent level where it’s currently hovering.
Ontario’s economy has historically been closely tied to the value of the loonie, since a large portion of the province’s GDP is geared toward making goods and services bound for export to the U.S. This time, the cheap loonie is coupled with a resurgent U.S. economy, which explains why the economists at TD are predicting a strong showing from Ontario in 2015.
But that’s not to say places outside Alberta are immune to the pain there, as other provinces — especially Ontario — export millions of dollars’ worth of services and parts to the oil patch every year.
The low oil price will filter through the economy in many more tangible ways. Real estate has been at least partly powered by oil patch buyers flush with cash. With those buyers seeing temporary setbacks, the bank expects the impact to filter into home prices.
“Calgary’s housing market, which has been on fire in recent months, appears particularly vulnerable to a slowdown,” it said.
Jobs could also suffer, the bank said. “It will not likely be long before the income shock from the recent plunge in oil prices will filter through to the labour markets in the affected regions,” the bank said.
But there is an upside. Lower growth will likely take some of the steam out of Canada’s inflation rate, which removes the pressure on the Bank of Canada to hike interest rates any time soon, TD says.
“By the end of 2016, short-term rates are expected to rise to a still-low two per cent,” TD said. “A slow increase in rates is likely to be consistent with a soft landing in regional housing markets.”
And of course, cheaper oil is expected to filter down into cheaper gasoline, which will also stimulate the economy as consumers have more disposable income to spend elsewhere.
As TD puts it, “we estimate that weaker prices at the pump should save the average Canadian household about $300 per year in 2015 relative to 2014.”