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Two largest provincial economies hardest hit

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The drop in shipment volumes in 2003 was concentrated in Canada's two largest manufacturing economi...

OTTAWA, Ont. — The drop in shipment volumes in 2003 was concentrated in Canada’s two largest manufacturing economies, Ontario and Quebec, in addition to British Columbia.

It was only partly offset by improvements in the remaining provinces and the territories. Alberta led the majority of provinces reporting higher shipments for the year.

A marked slowdown in motor vehicle and parts manufacturing, coupled with the electrical blackout of August 14, contributed to Ontario’s weak standing in 2003. A downturn in production of machinery, and the ongoing malaise of the computer industry also contributed. Total shipments in Ontario slipped 1.7% (-$4.7 billion) to $272.9 billion in 2003, following a 3.4% rise in 2002, year-end figures from Statistics Canada reveal.

Quebec’s manufacturers posted shipments of $119.1 billion, a 2.4% (-$2.9 billion) drop from 2002. The downturn in the global aviation sector continued to batter Quebec’s aerospace products and parts industry. Computer manufacturing also retrenched sharply following a steep decline in 2002. The clothing and textile mills industries reported significant decreases, partially because of the ongoing globalization of these industries.

British Columbia rounded out the three provinces reporting lower shipments in 2003. Shipments decreased 2.4% to $33.4 billion (-$835 million), following a 0.4% rise in 2002. The prevailing export duties on softwood lumber, coupled with falling prices, contributed to a sharp drop in shipments of wood products. Fewer shipments of transportation equipment and computers also contributed.

On a brighter note, Following a lacklustre 2002 (-3.4%), manufacturing shipments in Alberta rebounded 5.0% (+$2.1 billion) to $43.0 billion, leading all provinces reporting higher shipments. Despite the negative impact of mad cow disease on the Alberta economy, higher industrial prices partly contributed to the improvement in 2003. The petroleum, fabricated metal products and chemical products industries led Alberta’s manufacturing sector in 2003.

The wood products and chemical products industries contributed to a robust 2003 for Saskatchewan manufacturers. Total shipments were up 3.7% (+$265 million) to $7.5 billion, following a 1.3% increase in 2002.

Manitoba’s diversified manufacturing sector contributed to a relatively stable year. Shipments edged up 0.9% (+$101 million) to $11.6 billion. Increases in fabricated metal products and chemical manufacturing led all industries.

For the second consecutive year, the Atlantic Provinces reported increases in manufacturing activity. Led by a 3.4% (+$428 million) jump in New Brunswick, shipments ended the year at $13.1 billion. Meanwhile, manufacturing in Nova Scotia improved 1.8% (+$155 million) to $8.8 billion, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported a healthy gain of 6.8% (+$151 million) to $2.4 billon.

Prince Edward Island manufacturers posted shipments of $1.3 billion, up 1.2% (+$16 million) in 2003. This is well off the province’s gain of 9.5% last year.

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