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Manitoba GDP Forecast Signals Surprisingly Bright Year Ahead

Despite unsteady economic times in other regions, Manitoba is leading the pack.

According to a recent report by The Conference Board of Canada, Manitoba’s economic forecast looks rosy indeed, as the "Keystone Province" is expected to post real GDP growth of 2.8 per cent for both 2015 and 2016—numbers that are expected to lead the pack when all provinces are in the mix.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is often used by experts as one tell-tale measurement of a country or province’s economic scenario. GDP represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced during a specific time period. Simply put, GDP can be everything produced by people and businesses, including salaries of workers, private sector businesses and government projects.

This past May, May 2015 by Marie-Christine Bernard, Associate Director Provincial Forecast in The Conference Board of Canada, had some positive comments about Manitoba's economic situation, stating:

“As a wind of change blows through the country thanks to the slide in oil prices, Manitoba will be one of the country’s strongest economic performers until at least 2016. Strong growth in construction, a rebound in agriculture, and stable domestic demand are expected to lift labour markets and increase disposable household income for Manitobans.”

Loren Remillard, Executive Vice President of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce (WCC), is well aware of the recent reports declaring sunny times ahead for Manitoba. He feels the Manitoba business climate is fueled by products and spending that showcases a steady pace that soldiers on.

“In Manitoba, our economic diversity shields us from the ‘boom and bust’ cycle that defines many other provincial economies,” says Remillard. “While the Conference Board’s GDP forecast for Manitoba is encouraging, it is one economic measurement of many."

Remillard continues, "One can’t simply focus on the one metric, given the multitude of other indicators of economic health that together help tell a more fulsome story.”

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce has a membership of more than 2,000 businesses that it serves through functions such as lobbying, networking and business support services in the Winnipeg community. Remillard says Manitoba’s 1.3 million residents live in a province with a relatively lofty GDP prognosis, in part because of government spending on infrastructure on top of the private sector growth that The Chamber pushes for.

Remillard believes Manitoba should strive to stay at the top with a focused economic vision and strategy, which leverages Manitoba’s numerous private sector success stories, to position the province for when the other provinces bounce back from the harsh economic times they are facing.

“Manitoba needs an economic calling card,” explains Remillard. “Every province seems to have their own calling card that they are known for. Saskatchewan has agriculture; Alberta has natural resources; Ontario is Canada’s financial centre. Manitoba needs a calling card that others recognize when we step out onto the international stage.”

The rosy Manitoba GDP forecast was followed up by Canada being named the number two country in the world in the inaugural Best Countries report recently released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ranking only behind Germany.

Loren Remillard's Manitoba Economic "Calling Card"

Remillard provided his concept of a “calling card” success story that could help propel Manitoba businesses to the top of the charts year after year.

“Don’t go away from diversity,” urges Remillard. “Embrace diversity. But from this mix, we need to establish ourselves as global innovators and leaders in areas where the pieces are in place to do so.”

  1. Creative Design

“Entrepreneurs within our West Exchange District creative cluster are emerging as powerhouses in virtual and augmented reality, design and film to name but a few. Many Winnipeg companies have had a hand in putting together your favourite Hollywood blockbuster.”

  1. Food

“We produce a lot of the world’s food, but innovation is necessary if we are going to be on the cusp of helping to solve the global food challenge. We need to develop a coherent strategy through research, development and financial backing that loops and aligns all the food stakeholders together as pieces of the puzzle.”

  1. Clean Technology

“Manitoba’s geography produces extensive sunshine and wind, in reliable quantities. Some of our most exciting business opportunities are being spearheaded by clean-tech pioneers working to take advantage of our natural advantages beyond hydro-electric generation.”

Do you agree with these calling cards? What do you think Manitoba should be known for? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Duncan Morrison

Duncan is a Winnipeg-based writer and communications consultant that specializes in freelance writing, strategic communications and marketing plans for clients from a wide range of organizations and businesses. His work has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines.

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