Low Canadian dollar has both pros and cons in Ottawa area

Depending who you ask, the low Canadian dollar is either good or bad for the Ottawa area.

Travellers to the United States pay more, but tourism industry and exporters benefit

Pros and cons of the falling dollar in Ottawa

7 years ago
Duration 2:22
What effect is the low loonie having on Ottawa's residents, visitors and businesses?

Depending who you ask, the low Canadian dollar is either good or bad for the Ottawa area.

The loonie was valued around 80 cents American on Friday morning, down about 10 cents from where it was a year ago and down seven cents from what was then a five-year low in mid-October.

Economists have pointed to the fall in oil prices and strengthening American economy as reasons for the dip, plus this week’s decision by the Bank of Canada to cut its key interest rate.

Mark Gallagher was one of the travellers at the Ottawa International Airport Thursday with the Canadian dollar on his mind before a trip to the States. (CBC)

For Canadians travelling to the United States, this means increasingly-expensive trips if they didn’t plan ahead.

"I’m trying to not think about it," said Mark Gallagher, who was about to fly to Florida for a golf trip.

"It doesn't matter to us if the dollar's going up or going down," said Sid Thompson, who spoke to CBC News at the Ottawa International Airport.

"What we do is we purchase it when the dollar's really good and purchase enough that it'll last us for two to three years."

Opportunity for others

On the other side of the figurative coin, Ottawa Tourism said American travellers may see a trip to Canada as more affordable and attractive

"Visitors come both from the dollar and from the gas price point of view, [and] it's an easy drive," said spokesperson Jantine van Kregten.

"Winter travel is very exciting in Ottawa, skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway and of course Winterlude coming up. So we hope to see more Americans in town."

Van Kregten said Ottawa Tourism is stepping up a social media campaign to try and attract more people to Ottawa’s winter attractions.

Another group that benefits from a low Canadian dollar is businesses with a lot of American customers.

Rick Hunter, the president and CEO of Ottawa-based amusement part water ride manufacturer ProSlide, said they make more money when the Canadian dollar drops.

"Most of our business is done in U.S. currency," he said.

"Certainly (with) export, the devaluation of the Canadian dollar does help us a lot. There's no doubt about it."