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Manitoba: Golden boy or laggard?

The province hasn’t gone bust, but it also never really boomed


 

Manitoba: Golden boy or laggard?

Forget everything you thought you knew about the Western Tigers: booming B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. Quiet, humble Manitoba, which boasts one of the country’s lowest unemployment rates, is the new envy of the West, according to a report by the Canada West Foundation. Its highly diversified economy and slow-and-steady fiscal gait have, by and large, helped the province avoid the Great Recession, says report author Jacques Marcil. Others would “love to be” in its position, adds Marcil, noting that the province’s economy hasn’t contracted as much as other provincial economies.

Not so fast, says Niels Veldhuis, senior economist at the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute. Manitoba is “anything but the envy of the West—or most other provinces,” he says. Manitoba isn’t seeing the same degree of fiscal contraction as the rest of the West because it never expanded in the first place: that is, no boom, no bust. In a downturn, says Veldhuis, more successful economies like B.C. or Alberta simply feel the pain more deeply than unsuccessful ones.

Like Manitoba, Atlantic Canada has fared well over the course of the recession, adds Charles Cirtwill, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. They were cushioned by an outsized public sector—“the only truly recession-proof industry.” (So far, the public sector has been spared deep cutbacks.) If you consider purely private sector forecasts, Manitoba, says Veldhuis, is expected to be near the bottom of the rankings for real GDP growth for 2010. And of the four western provinces, Manitoba is the only province seeing net out-migration, adds Veldhuis. Manitobans—whose disposable incomes are still $10,000 lower than Albertans’ and $2,400 lower than in neighbouring Saskatchewan—“continue to vote with their feet.”


 

Manitoba: Golden boy or laggard?

  1. That's because they suck $2 billion dollars in equalization payments. Pretty easy for a small province like Manitoba to do well when they take in that much money.

    • Exactly! This province has been broke for decades, but just becasue we recieve our annual bail-out from the rest of Canada, we think we're doing something right. We can't even balance the freakin' budget after a $2 billion anual bailout. It's pathetic.

  2. To correct your Economist's facts, Manitoba actually has positive population growth and much lower unemployment than his precious British Columbia. The Fraser institute has a surprisingly twisted view on a strong and well diversified economy. BC can keep it's record high Real Estate prices and high unemployment. If the rest of the country had not paid most of the bills for their Olympics, BC would be broke for the next Millennium. This is not the first time that I have heard in-acurrate information from a so called Economist. Check your facts before printing.

  3. "…of the four western provinces, Manitoba is the only province seeing net out-migration, adds Veldhuis"
    ??? According to Statisitcs Canada, Manitoba recorded its largest population increase in 16 years in 2009.
    Mr. Veldhuis perceptions are false, not actual facts.

    • Population increase != net migration. Populations increase just by having babies.

  4. Manitoba had its boom at the turn of the 20th century, 100 years ago. It's been steady ever since. A diverse, stable economy may make for boring news copy, but it's a great place to live.

    • Except when you're reminded about how much we have was earned by other provinces. We're a have-not province, which means we can't even pay for our own provincial governments spending on a yearly basis. I love living in MB as much as the next guy, but lets keep the provincial finances in proper context here.

  5. Hey Macleans, why not show a little journalistic integrity and check your facts before disseminating the Fraser Institute's lies. Manitoba's economic growth has surpassed Canada's for four consecutive years. Velhuis' claim about net out-migration is also wrong: in Oct. 2009 Manitoba's population reached 1,226,196, an annual increase of 17,085, which is a 1.4 % increase from the previous year and above Canada's 1.2 %. Do some research you hacks! http://www.gov.mb.ca/finance/pdf/quarterlyreports

    • How much of that population growth was due to babies? And all of Manitoba's economic growth over the last 4 years was due to increased transfer payments from OTHER PROVINCES. Manitoba couldn't even run a balanced budget when half (or more) of the provincial income comes on the backs of workers in other provinces. MB's economy will be in serious trouble in less than 2 years.

  6. I have to agree that the reporter should really check their facts before slagging someone's home province.

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