Alberta flag in front of setting sun

New experimental measures of economic activity in Canada find that Alberta was hardest hit by economic disruption in early 2020.

In an effort to capture the effects of Covid-19 on the economy in a more timely way than traditional GDP, Statistics Canada developed a series of new indexes that combine various monthly metrics into a single indicator of economic activity, using a variety of methodologies.

That effort found that Alberta suffered most early on, thanks to a combination of weaker oil prices and the effects of Covid-19.

Depending on the methodology used, StatsCan estimates that Alberta saw economic activity decline between 30.1% and 68.7% in March, compared with the same month last year.

“The size of the declines shown in Alberta speak to the size of the dual shock from the pandemic and from falling oil prices,” it said.

The indexes’ activity estimates for Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan “were also consistently large and negative,” the report noted.

Economic activity in Saskatchewan fell by between 8.2% and 46.7%, depending on the measure used.

Ontario and Quebec, which have had the highest number of Covid-19 cases per capita, saw major declines too. Activity in Ontario dropped by between 8.5% and 38.1%; in Quebec, activity was down between 5.5% and 26.8% over the same period.

StatsCan noted that declines were also reported for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories.

Conversely, it found that Nunavut — which has yet to report a confirmed case of Covid-19 — saw an 8.8% increase in its economic activity index in March.