B.C. dodging downturn: economist

Canada's baby recession reflects Alberta's dive, while B.C. sees continued slow growth

Central 1 Credit Union chief economist Helmut Pastrick.

A small contraction of Canada’s economy in the first half of the year put the country in a technical recession, which may already be over if an uptick in June wasn’t a blip.

But a leading B.C. economist doesn’t believe the ‘R’ word applies to B.C., or to most of the country for that matter.

“I don’t believe Canada is in an official recession,” said Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union. “This situation is not really indicative of what most economists would consider a full-fledged recession.”

He said the downturn is a narrow one focused mainly on the energy sector, hitting Alberta hard as producers slash capital spending following the plunge in oil prices.

Statistics Canada reported a 0.5 per cent drop in GDP in the second quarter, following a 0.8 per cent decline in the first quarter.

But a monthly breakdown pointed to economic growth of 0.5 per cent in June.

“That offers some glimmer of hope that what we’ve seen in the prior five months of negative GDP contraction could be at an end.”

B.C. and central Canada are not likely in recession, Pastrick stressed.

There may be weak regions of B.C., he said, such as the energy-exposed northeast or mining-dependent communities hit after metallurgical coal firms cut production.

But Pastrick sees continued slow growth in southern B.C., including the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan.

“Our forecast for the B.C. economy is that we will see growth this year and we currently do not see it in a recession.”

He said employment data backs that up, indicating job growth across B.C. running at about 0.7 per cent so far this year.

As for whether the term recession should apply to the country as a whole, Pastrick said he leaves that to a panel of economists at the C.D. Howe Institute, who assess various factors, including the depth of the downturn, its duration and breadth across multiple industries, and not strictly the rule of thumb regarding two quarters of shrinkage.

The expected confirmation of a recession and what to do about it has been an issue in the federal election campaign, with the Liberals pledging aggressive stimulus spending and deficits, in contrast to Conservative and NDP promises to balance the budget.

Just Posted

Police encourage reporting of suspicious events following reports involving children

Terrace RCMP are asking the public to report any suspicious adult interactions… Continue reading

Soup kitchen sees “groundswell of community support”

Donations toward looming tax bill push non-profit back in the black

College buys a yurt to boost student success

Round tent-like structure part of college instructional shift

Terrace husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

BC Ambulance presented each a Vital Link Award for separate incidents of CPR

Council supports lobby for fair share of cannabis tax revenue

The City of Terrace is throwing its support behind a West Kelowna… Continue reading

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

UPDATE: Brother of B.C. teen killed by stray bullet says the death left a void

Alfred Wong, 15, was gunned down in Vancouver while on his way home from dinner with his family

Most Read