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.

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)
MLA’s CORNER: Premier Horgan needs to work harder

There are lots of people out there who are in desperate need of assistance

The first Chimney Creek Roadhouse, constructed in 1864. (Photo courtesy of the B.C. Provincial Archives)
HAPHAZARD HISTORY: The Isnardy family of Williams Lake

Amadee Isnardy was born in 1840 near Nice, France

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.
FOREST INK: Ecological economics not a popular topic for most people

The following is a review of the no (or slow) growth concept

Do you have a letter? Email us at editor@wltribune.com
LETTER: BC Liberals left ICBC a mess: Farnworth

Our BC NDP government has worked tirelessly to fix the mess that was left behind

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read