Economy

NWT says its economy is weathering Covid-19 better than others


The NWT’s economy will come out of Covid-19’s initial months damaged but in better shape than other parts of Canada, the territory said on Friday.

The territorial government is forecasting a 3.3-percent contraction in its economy this year, which it says is “significantly less than the national average of 8.2 percent forecast by the Conference Board of Canada,” an economic think-tank.

Despite steep declines in the tourism and transportation industries, the territory said “steps taken to keep the diamond mines and the public sector active” had softened the pandemic’s blow.

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Mining and government are by far the territory’s largest employers. The Ekati mine has suspended activities but the Gahcho Kué and Diavik mines remain fully operational.

The private sector is in worse shape. A GNWT-commissioned survey of businesses showed that 81 percent of NWT companies had experienced a “significant decrease” in revenues.

Tourism and transportation industries were the hardest-hit, telling the government they saw revenues drop by an average of 71 percent.

On the other hand, more than 90 percent of businesses surveyed by the territory in April and May reported they expected to make it through the pandemic.

Consumer spending and small business spending has rebounded since May, the territory said, and 71 percent of NWT residents surveyed were planning to travel within the territory in the next six months.

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The Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment said the results of third survey – carried out in June to examine the impact on consumer demand – is coming soon.

According to the territory, the various surveys are “part of … ongoing work to better understand the effects of Covid-19 on the NWT and how best to respond to them.”

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