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NWT GDP partially recovered in 2021, initial figures suggest

A file image of downtown Yellowknife and the NWT legislature
A file image of downtown Yellowknife and the NWT legislature. Jaahnlieb/Dreamstime

The Northwest Territories’ gross domestic product staged a partial recovery in 2021 from a plunge the year prior, initial figures suggest.

The territory’s economy grew by 6.3 percent last year, partly offsetting a 10-percent drop reported in 2020, according to Statistics Canada’s first estimates of 2021 GDP.

Even as some sectors begin to rebound, the Covid-19 pandemic and other factors have left the territory’s economy at its weakest in at least a decade.

Growth in 2021 was attributed in part to the return of production at the NWT’s Ekati mine, where work stopped for much of 2020 due to both the pandemic and financial concerns at then-owner Dominion.



Ekati’s return helped a 12.2-percent increase in the diamond mining industry, the NWT Bureau of Statistics said in a news release, and overall the territory’s mining and resource extraction sector grew by 11.9 percent in 2021.

Real estate, rental and retail all grew. Accommodation and food services, which dropped 39 percent in 2020 as the pandemic restricted venue capacities and shut down travel, rose eight percent in 2021.

Nationally, GDP increased by 4.8 percent in 2021. The territories outperformed the provinces: Yukon’s economy grew by 9.1 percent, according to Statistics Canada’s initial estimate, and Nunavut’s economy rose by 6.7 percent, a fractionally larger increase than in the NWT.

Yukon and Nunavut each recorded economic growth in both 2020 and 2021, the only Canadian jurisdictions to do so. Yukon managed five-percent growth in 2020 alongside nine-percent growth in 2021.

Saskatchewan had the only economy to decline in both years, shrinking 0.3 percent in 2021 after a five-percent drop in 2020.

Final GDP figures for 2021 are expected in November.