Canadian economy posts weakest back-to-back quarters of growth since 2015

However, overall growth was boosted by highest quarterly level of household spending in two years

Statistics Canada’s offices at Tunny’s Pasture in Ottawa are shown on Friday, March 8, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

Canada’s economy expanded at an annualized pace of just 0.4 per cent in the first three months of the year, giving the country its weakest back-to-back quarters of growth since 2015.

The real gross domestic product reading for the first quarter followed a revised growth number of just 0.3 per cent in the previous quarter, Statistics Canada said Friday in a new report.

It was the slowest two-quarter stretch of growth since an oil-price plunge caused the economy to shrink over the first half of 2015.

Economists had expected growth at an annualized rate of 0.7 per cent for the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

The Statistics Canada report said downward pressure on first-quarter growth was driven by weakness in net trade as imports increased 1.9 per cent and export volumes dropped one per cent for their first quarterly decrease since 2017.

Canada also saw a substantial contraction of 9.5 per cent in its exports of farm and fishing products as well as a 2.8 per cent drop in crude-oil shipments.

On the positive side, the agency said overall economic growth was boosted by the highest quarterly level of household spending in two years, following broad-based increases that included strength in auto purchases and audio-visual equipment.

The economy also saw an 8.7 per cent increase in business investments on equipment and machinery — the biggest jolt in 23 years. The surge was fuelled in part by significant investments in aircraft and other transportation equipment, the report said.

Looking ahead, the report’s month-to-month reading for March — the final month of the first quarter — suggested the second quarter could be off to a stronger start. March posted a 0.5 per cent increase compared to a 0.2 per cent contraction in February.

The first-quarter reading Friday was slightly higher than the Bank of Canada’s prediction of 0.3 per cent.

READ MORE: Trudeau touts economic record at Liberal fundraiser in Vancouver

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Interior Health CEO talks patient transfers, staffing challenges

Susan Brown takes questions on local, regional health care issues at a recent public meeting

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

Monkey Do’s Childcare talks expansion, government funding

The B.C. Government has been working to improve childcare in the province… Continue reading

Moose tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in northwest Montana

This is the first time the disease has been detected in the species in Montana

Max’s Place celebrates 25 years in business

On Friday, Nov. 15 Max’s Place, a beloved Cranbrook bakery and coffee… Continue reading

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Striking Vancouver hotel workers, employer reach ‘tentative’ agreement

Employees of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia have been out at picket lines since talks broke off on Sept. 21

Environmental and animal rights activists chain themselves to front doors of Kelowna bank

The group is protesting Interior Savings Credit Union’s support of Kelowna Ribfest

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

Cell phone tickets worse tax grab than speed limits, SenseBC says

Distracted driving statistics questioned as B.C. tickets pile up

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

Most Read