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GDP essentially unchanged in February

Last Updated Apr 30, 2020 at 10:58 am EDT

Signage mark the Statistics Canada offiices in Ottawa on July 21, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The GDP was essentially unchanged in February, Statistics Canada says

Full disruptive effect of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy should be reflected in March numbers

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Statistics Canada says after three months of growth, the country’s real gross domestic product was essentially unchanged in February.

Without declines, particularly in educational services, and disruptions in the transportation and warehousing sector, the agency says the economy would have grown 0.2 per cent.

In addition, Statistics Canada says the global spread of COVID-19 “continued affecting the potential growth of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) in February through reduced movement of people, goods and services.”

At the time, the economy was being significantly impacted by rail blockades. The transportation and warehousing sector was down for the third time in four months in February, with rail transport seeing a decline of 5.1 per cent after a 0.7 decrease in January.

Rail blockades impacted the movement of goods and people for about 21 days.

The full disruptive effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the Canadian economy should be reflected “notably” in March numbers, as well as those to come in the months following.

According to preliminary indications, Statistics Canada says “economic contraction in March was the largest since the series started in 1961.”

Earlier this month, Statistics Canada released a “flash estimate” for GDP in March showing a decline of about nine per cent. Meanwhile, the flash estimate for the first quarter indicated a decline of about 2.6 per cent.

Statistics Canada says it’s been producing flash estimates given the unique situation created by the COVID-19 crisis.

The official GDP estimate for March is expected to be released on May 29.

Richard Dettman will have more in Business at :26 and :56.