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Conference board thinks pandemic’s impact on economy will be twice as bad as initial forecasts

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The board initially expected the downturns in Ontario and Quebec to result in GDP contractions of 3.2 per cent and 3.8 per cent, but those projections have now been revised to 7.6 per cent and 7.2 per cent.

Quebec was the worst-hit province in terms of the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, but the damage to its economy would have been worse if not for the government’s decision to begin the reopening process earlier than others, the report said.

The province’s crucial aerospace industry, in particular, may have a long wait ahead before it can fully recover. Air travel, the report said, likely will not return to normal levels until late 2021 or 2022.

For Ontario, it’s the automotive industry that’s troubled. The report estimates that auto sales plunged by close to 60 per cent this year due to a drop off in exports to the U.S. The province’s recovery will continue to be tied to the U.S. and its ability to keep cases under control. If it cannot do so, Americans won’t exactly be flocking to car dealerships, the report said.

“Even with the rebound starting in the third quarter … it will take until the end of next year for the economy to return to its pre-pandemic level of output,” the report said.

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