Recession prompted ‘sustainable’ growth: economist

The recession slowed down the Yukon's growth, but it's about time something put the brakes on the economy, said Bank of Canada economist Farid Novin, This time last year, the Yukon was struggling to keep up with "breakneck

The recession slowed down the Yukon’s growth, but it’s about time something put the brakes on the economy, said Bank of Canada economist Farid Novin,

This time last year, the Yukon was struggling to keep up with “breakneck” growth, said Novin – the senior economics representative for the BC/Yukon branch of the Bank of Canada.

“We had a problem with labour shortages, we had a problem with input costs going higher – and now it’s much more manageable,” said Novin.

The new, slower economy is much more “sustainable,” said Novin.

“You have a very calm and beautiful economy,” he told a meeting of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce last week.

Novin was the only speaker who requested a cordless microphone.

“I feel more comfortable … it’s easier for me to walk around,” he explained.

As he paced across the stage in a jet-black suit, the Iranian-born economist resembled a Persian Tony Bennett.

Whirlwind growth had brought a crippling labour shortage to the Yukon.

Two years ago, the Yukon government fast-tracked a new immigration program allowing faster entry of foreign workers into the territory.

More than 200 workers have entered the Yukon on the program – many of them Filipino.

A housing shortage compounded the problem.

In August of last year, the Yukon government sent fliers to Yukon residents imploring them to “open their home” to out-of-territory summer labourers.

While “there was no recession” in the Yukon, “some activities slowed down,” said Novin.

The Yukon’s mining and tourism industry took the largest hit.

The Cantung mine – located just across the NWT border – was forced to close due to plummeting world demand for tungsten.

Raven Recycling generated much of its revenue on sales of scrap metals.

When those prices plummeted, the centre was forced to solicit government backing.

By 2011, industry should start to rebound as world growth returns to pre-recession levels, said Novin.

Growth has already started to bounce back across other regions of Canada – although it will still be a while until residents will feel the social effects of a rebound, he said.

Nowhere in Canada was pre-recession growth more breakneck than in the Alberta tar sands – located just a few hundred kilometres to the Yukon’s southwest.

“That was too fast,” said Novin.

As global oil prices spiralled to an all-time high of $140 per barrel, investors scrambled to expand tarsands development.

Gold, corn, soy and other commodities followed oil’s lead – reaching all-time highs by early 2008.

“It was really an indication that things were far too hot,” said Novin.

Alberta employers had been so desperate to recruit labourers before the recession that they were reluctant to dump them once the recession hit, said Edmonton Chamber of Commerce president Martin Salloum, who was in Whitehorse for the Northern Forum.

Many tarsands workers were kept on as “floor sweepers” as their employers waited for the economy to rebound, he said.

As the economy fills with air – industries will have much more time to eliminate the “bottlenecks” that they faced before, said Novin.

The Yukon’s rush economy just needed a quick sedative.

Contact Tristin Hopper at

Just Posted

Transit worker serve City of Whitehorse strike notice

Residents advised to make alternate travel arrangements starting March 19

Cleanup work set to start at former site of Whitehorse oil refinery

Crews will use thermal technology to remediate sludge pit that dates back to 1940s

Spring-like temperatures break Yukon records

This week’s unusually warm weather broke records, but it won’t be around for much longer

Yukon government to ‘investigate’ eliminating daylight saving time

‘Internal clocks simply do not function according to the legislation’

Whitehorse city council approves Porter Creek group home

Concerns about crime, noise and consultation overblown, councillors say

I’m Fur Real offers platform for artisans to sell their work

‘There’s nothing better than buying something from the person who made it’

Perfect snow and weather conditions for Yukon Championships

‘These next few days, we will be in our glory’

Yukon Rivermen finish regular season at home

‘Having five teams visit us and 15 home games was incredible’

The huge cost of distracted driving

Distracted driving is a very serious issue affecting road safety across the country

Fiscal policy continuity in 2018 Yukon budget

Get ready for a big wave of debt

Yukon’s Eagle mine secures funding to get it to production

Utility board signs off on mine’s power purchase agreement

Parties spar over the size of French high school planned for Whitehorse

New school to have room for 150 students, earlier report called for space for 200

Most Read