The gap between what Canadians import and what we sell to the rest of the world soared to $1.8 billion in June, an almost twofold increase from the level a month earlier.

Canada's trade deficit was at $954 million a month earlier, Statistics Canada said. Canada imported a record high $40.9 billion worth of goods in June. In volume terms, the figure was up by 2.5 per cent.

That was a much larger gain than the 1.1 per cent increase in exports, which came in at $39.1 billion. A strong gain in exports of automotive products (up 13.9 per cent to $6.3 billion) helped offset declines in five out of seven sectors, the data agency said.

The spike in auto sales puts that figure at its highest monthly point since early 2006.

As a resource-rich nation, Canada traditionally has had trade surpluses, meaning we sell to the world more than what we buy from them.

But since the recession, the economy has been consistently in trade deficit conditions. Since late 2008, Canada has only posted a significant trade surplus eight times.