MRO Magazine

Canada’s Economic activity advances slightly in April

Ottawa, ON -- Economic activity advanced slightly in Canada in April 2004 as the gross domestic product (GDP) rose...


July 9, 2004
By MRO Magazine

Ottawa, ON — Economic activity advanced slightly in Canada in April 2004 as the gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.1%, following a strong 0.8% gain in March, Statistics Canada reports.

Manufacturing output fell slightly with widespread weakness. Higher prices for oil and gas propelled the mining sector as the production and exploration for oil and gas expanded significantly. The strong housing market translated into gains for residential construction, the real estate agents and brokerage industry, the financial sector and professional services from the legal industry and manufacturers of construction-related materials.

Electricity generation bounced back somewhat from its retrenchment in February and March. Wholesaling activity advanced for the second consecutive month after tumbling the first two months of this year.

Labour strife across the country resulted in a sizeable decline in the health care sector. The retailing industry gave up the gains made in March reflecting lower sales at new motor vehicle dealers. A drop in the number of tourists to Canada adversely affected the hotel and restaurant industries. The education sector reported its fourth consecutive monthly decline.


Industrial production (mining, manufacturing and utilities) increased 0.3%, the sixth increase in the past 12 months, as higher mining and utilities output more than compensated for the weakness in the manufacturing sector. In comparison, the U.S. index of industrial production increased 0.8%, the ninth increase in the last twelve months as all components registered gains.

Manufacturing contracted 0.2% in April after jumping 1.6% in March. Primary metal manufacturing contracted 2.2% in April as iron and steel pipe production plummeted 9.2% and iron and steel mills and foundries shrank 6.2% and 4.0% respectively.

The slowdown of 2.2% in information and communication technologies product manufacturing and 0.4% in machinery manufacturing was partially offset by gains in wood products of 1.3% and non-metallic mineral products of 1.0%.

Maintenance shutdowns

The paper industry declined 1.0% in April. This decline was mainly due maintenance shutdowns at a number of mills and to some extent the strength of the Canadian dollar.

Veneer, plywood and engineered wood product manufacturing industry increased 3.9% while sawmills and wood preservation improved 1.3% as the housing market in Canada and the US remained strong.

Gains in the chemical and non-metallic mineral industries helped balance manufacturing losses. Pesticide, fertilizer, and other agricultural chemical manufacturing was up 3.1% as conditions in the fertilizer industry continued to improve — the world’s grain inventories as a percentage of consumption are reaching the lowest levels on record.

Cement and concrete products manufacturing rose 2.8%, reflecting strong domestic and foreign demand. Laminated plastics were also up a significant 4.6%.

Seafood manufacturing declined 2.4%, as lower lobster stocks reduced the number of processing licences issued on the east coast and low product prices kept shrimp fishermen on shore.

Tobacco production fell a further 2.6% in April due to upcoming closures and high levels of inventories.

Output at wineries grew 4.7% in April as new product lines were introduced to the market and the exports of Canadian ice wine to the United States grew.