Alberta’s GDP still below 2018 levels

Despite an increase of 5.05% in their GDP last year, Alberta still lags behind other provinces in economic growth. It didn’t help that we had the worst economic growth the year before.

Statistics Canada recently released 2021 gross domestic product data for the provinces, so I thought I’d explore how Alberta’s GDP has changed recently.

First, here’s a look at how the provinces stack up.

ON$746.50 billion
QC$377.91 billion
AB$323.06 billion
BC$262.19 billion
SK$77.04 billion
MB$61.28 billion
NS$39.08 billion
NB$31.63 billion
NL$30.49 billion
PEI$6.27 billion

Alberta had the third highest GDP last year, accounting for 16.52% of the GDP of all 10 of the provinces.

This isn’t that surprising. Alberta has ranked behind Ontario and Québec for quite some time, certainly going back to at least 2011, which is as far back as I went for capturing data for this article.

When I looked at Alberta’s share of the combined GDP of the 10 provinces over a longer period, I noticed something else. It’s actually been trending down for the last several years.

Last year was the second lowest share of provincial GDP Alberta has seen since at least 2011, and the year before was the lowest. In fact, the three lowest years have all been while the UCP have been in power.

Remember, this isn’t Alberta’s GDP itself, but it’s GDP in relation to the GDP of all the other provinces.

That means that if Alberta’s GDP worsened, it happened at greater rates than all 10 provinces as a whole. Conversely, if it improved over the last year (or the last 3 years, for that matter), it happened at lower rates than all 10 provinces as a whole.

Now let’s look at how much GDP changed between 2020 and 2021 for each province.

20202021Change% change
in billions $

The province with the largest increase in dollars was Ontario, which saw their GDP increase by over $33 billion. Alberta was in 3rd place, after Québec, at $15.54 billion.

Relative to how each province did in 2020, PEI saw the largest percentage increase, jumping 6.64%. Alberta was in 6th place, with 5.05%.

But even so, a 5.05% increase in GDP is still pretty good, right?

Well, check out how Alberta did between 2019 and 2020.

20192020Change% change
in billions $

Alberta isn’t in the middle of the pack here. We were last place at the end of 2020. While we didn’t see the largest drop in dollar value of GDP (that honour went to Ontario), we saw the second largest drop. Plus, we saw the largest decline in percentage of GDP, losing nearly 8%.

So, while 5.05% is a good thing, we lost nearly 8% of our GDP the year before, which means were still not out of the woods yet and that 5.05% is all recovery.

See for yourself.

Alberta’s GDP is higher than it was last year, but we’re still lower than where we were in 2019—during the UCP’s first year in office—let alone in 2018—during the NDP’s final year in office. On that note, during the NDP’s last year, Alberta’s GDP reached its second highest level over the last 10 years. For whatever that’s worth.

And if we compare the GDP of each province in 2018 with where they sat in 2021, Alberta doesn’t look that hot.

20182021% change
in billions $

Alberta was one of only 4 provinces whose GDP in 2021 was still lower than their GDP in 2018. And of those 4, Alberta is the second worst.

So, despite all the posturing from the UCP that Alberta’s Recovery Plan is working, our economy is nowhere close to where it was before they took office.

Granted, they are kind of correct. Our economy is indeed recovering. We’re just not the economic engine the UCP keep claiming we are.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

2 replies on “Alberta’s GDP still below 2018 levels”

Of interest to me is that the year most things in Alberta fell apart was 2014, exactly the time when price of oil collapsed. And still no one has any “interest” in seeing our little part of the world doing anything about not relying on the price of oil being the only backstop to our lives and livelihoods.

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