Business

Canada's economy eked out slight growth to start 2022, despite Omicron

Canada's economy managed to eke out a slight expansion to kick off 2022, as goods-producing industries continued to grow even as most service sectors were walloped by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Despite ongoing pandemic, economy has now expanded for 8 months in a row

A sign outside a diner in Ottawa on Feb. 1, 2022, when indoor dining restrictions were lifted. While service sectors continue to be hit hard by the pandemic, other sectors have experienced strong growth. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Canada's economy managed to eke out a slight expansion to kick off 2022, as goods-producing industries continued to churn out growth even as most service sectors were walloped by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Statistics Canada reported that the country's gross domestic product expanded by 0.2 per cent in January. That's the eighth straight increase in a row, after the data agency revised December's data up to a tiny 0.1 per cent increase, from flat previously.

Output in goods-producing industries expanded by 0.8 per cent in the month, led by construction. The service sector, meanwhile, was hit hard by lockdowns and capacity restrictions related to limiting the spread of COVID-19. 

Businesses in the food, accommodation, arts, entertainment and recreation sectors saw their economic activity decline by 10 per cent or more in January as people stayed home.

While those types of in-person services have borne the brunt of the economic pain since the start of the pandemic, the good news is that they seem to have rebounded in February and beyond.

Preliminary data suggests the economy grew by 0.8 per cent during that month, led by increases in manufacturing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction, accommodation and food services, and construction.

"Despite the Omicron wave, the Canadian economy was able to keep its foot on the gas in January. And, by February, it was again time to hit the accelerator," economist Royce Mendes with Desjardins said of the numbers.

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