The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica at the Windsor Assembly Plant, May 6 2016. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

Moderate Growth Predicted For Southwestern Ontario’s Economy

The Bank of Montreal’s chief economist predicts moderate growth of about 2% for Southwestern Ontario’s economy over the year ahead.

Doug Porter spoke at the Roma Club in Leamington Wednesday morning where he gave an overview of what to expect in 2018.

Porter says the economy in the region has recovered well over the past two years, but there are a couple of question marks in the months ahead, including the outcome of the provincial election and what will happen with the North American Free Trade Agreement.

He understands there has been a great deal of anxiety should the trade pact be terminated but says “ultimately the risks will be manageable.

“We’re still going to have a trade relationship with the U.S.,” Porter says. “We will see policy adjust. We will see the dollar adjust.”

Porter remains cautiously optimistic NAFTA talks will prevail, saying even President Donald Trump has hinted most recently he wants negotiations to succeed.

NAFTA presents one point of uncertainty for the auto sector, but Porter says there are also signs a slowdown is on the way.

“We’ve got close to or record auto sales in North America. Of course, that’s an important positive for the region, but it does look like U.S. auto sales are starting to come off their highs,” he warns.

Sarah Dobbin, Patient Care Manager at Aphria, stands next to rows of medical marijuana plants at the company's Leamington greenhouses on February 19, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Sarah Dobbin, Patient Care Manager at Aphria, stands next to rows of medical marijuana plants at the company’s Leamington greenhouses on February 19, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

One bright spot in the year ahead is the performance of the agricultural sector. Porter says it is expected to perform quite strongly, although legal cannabis will not lead the way.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a game changer, by any means. I don’t know that we’re going to see tremendous growth in the sector, but I think on net it will give a modest boost,” he says.

Porter also had advice for Canadians looking to cash in on legal cannabis, saying investors should be very critical of the companies they put their money behind keeping in mind past performance and sales.