Western provinces led growth in 2011

Canada's western provinces led the country in terms of economic growth last year, even as the Canadian economy as a whole showed signs of slowing down.
A front loader filled with potash in Colonsay, Sask. is shown. The province's economy was one of the best-performing ones in Canada in 2011.

Alberta led the country in economic growth in 2011, followed closely by Saskatchewan, Statistics Canada says.

The Canadian economy as a whole expanded 2.6 per cent in 2011, slowing somewhat after a 3.4 per cent expansion in 2010.

The chart below shows growth rates for various provincial economies in 2011


But in Alberta, the economy picked up speed. It surged 5.2 per cent last year, after a more tepid 3.3 per cent expansion a year earlier, buoyed by high energy prices that encouraged extraction and exploration in the oil and gas patch.

Saskatchewan's economy grew 4.8 per cent from the previous year, thanks to strong export demand for its natural resources.

Yukon's economy expanded at a 5.6 per cent pace, but the territory's economy is such a small percentage of Canada's overall that it did not have a significant impact on the overall numbers. The same could be said of Nunavut, which posted the largest expansion in Canada at 7.7 per cent.

The most populous province, Ontario, saw sluggish 2.0 per cent growth in 2011, led by mining and exploration, as well as manufacturing.

Manufacturing output increased 2.4 per cent in 2011, the second consecutive year of growth following four years of declines.

The only part of the country to see an outright contraction was Northwest Territories, where a big decline in diamond mining  led to a 5.5 per cent drop.

With files from CBC News