This paper examines economic developments and policies in Canada during 1990–95. Spurred by the robust growth in the United States and the easing of monetary conditions between 1991 and 1993, economic growth in Canada continued to strengthen during 1994. Real GDP grew by 4.5 percent in 1994 after growing by 2.2 percent in 1993 and 0.6 percent in 1992. Economic growth in 1994 was led by exports and investment in machinery and equipment. However, growth was more broadly based in 1994; private consumption strengthened, and there was a rebound in residential and nonresidential construction.
Between 1980 and 1995, labor productivity in the business sector grew at an average annual rate in Canada, which was slightly faster than productivity growth in Germany, but significantly slower than labor productivity growth in France, Italy, Japan, and the United States. To better understand developments in labor productivity, it is useful to decompose its growth rate into changes in the capital/labor ratio and in total factor productivity. The contribution of information technology to labor productivity growth has been more modest in Canada than in the United States.
This Selected Issues paper addresses some of the key policy and economic challenges facing the Canadian economy. The paper presents a new approach to predicting the business cycle in the context of the Canadian economy. This approach uses a range of parametric and nonparametric tests to gauge the ability of various indicators to predict turning points in the business cycle. The paper also presents a model that links the inflation rate to the business cycle and the rates of change in the exchange rate and in unit labor costs.
This Selected Issues paper assesses the long-term fiscal position of Canada. Simulations based on current tax and spending policies suggest that the fiscal position will remain favorable until well into the middle of the century, and relatively modest adjustments would be required to make these policies sustainable in the long term. The analysis also illustrates that these conclusions could be easily overturned if pressures to spend the planning surpluses that are expected to emerge in coming years are not resisted, and if measures are not put in place to contain the cost of health care.