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Ontario GDP grows in first quarter, unemployment rates near historic lows

Ontario’s economy has shown “resiliency” in 2023, as the economic and geopolitical unpredictability in Canada has been on the rise, the government of Ontario said in its 2023 first quarter results released on Monday.

Ontario’s real gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.0% in the first quarter of 2023, after seeing a 0.4% decline in the previous quarter, the release said.

The first quarter results also showed an increase in employment rates in Ontario, increasing by over 230,000 jobs between September 2022 and July 2023, taking the unemployment rates in Ontario to “near historic lows” 5.6% for the month of July.

Ontario’s unemployment rates remain on line with Canada’s overall results for the month where unemployment rate increased 0.1% to 5.5% in July, according to report by Statistics Canada released earlier this month. However, while Ontario’s unemployment has shown a decrease for the quarter, Canada’s overall unemployment rates have been on the rise for three consecutive months.

Ontario Finance Minister Bethlanfalvy (left) with Premier Doug Ford (right)

In its 2023-24 budget released in March, Ontario suggested the province expects to run a $1.3-billion deficit before making a small surplus of $200 million in 2024-25, followed by a $4.4-billion surplus the following fiscal year.

The projected budget surpluses for 2023-24 leaned heavily on higher-than-expected revenues that would outweigh the money invested in health care, including boosts to hospitals, home care and the medical workforce.

The budget plan showed “it is possible to balance the budget while still investing in areas such as health care, housing and highways,” Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said in March at the time of the release of the fiscal budget.

Despite Ontario’s resilience to the country’s economic hardships in this quarter “the province is not immune to any potential economic slowdown,” the release said. The province’s expectations for GDP growth have declined for 2024, as the impact of interest rate increases by Bank of Canada continues to affect Canada’s overall economy.


Rahat Sandhu
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