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

Burrards lose in Victoria

Maple Ridge WLA squad hosts Salmonbellies on Sunday

UPDATE: Multiple fires along the railway tracks in Pitt Meadows

Firefighters asking CP rail to close tracks

Maple Ridge coaches and players on Team BC

Heading to California tournament with 15U team

Maple Ridge woman reported missing now located

Police have spoken with Karen Gorrie, reported missing in May

Golden Ears Bridge at 10: Community had called for a crossing for decades

From nothing, to the Albion Ferry, to the bridge was a long wait

Dog at Maple Ridge SPCA needs spinal surgery

Miniature pinscher has painful condition known as Wobbler Syndrome.

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Metro Vancouver’s air quality could be the worst yet this wildfire season

As wildfire season approached, Metro Vancouver experts predict the air will be an issue for many

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Most Read