A new forecast says an Olympics-pumped British Columbia will lead Canada out of recession with the strongest economic growth in the country next year.

The Conference Board of Canada says B.C.’s economy will advance by a robust 4.2 per cent in 2010, in part because of the activity surrounding the Winter Olympics in February.

The think-tank’s estimate for growth nationally is 2.9 per cent, about where the Bank of Canada pegs it, but higher than most private-sector economists.

The board’s provincial outlook says Saskatchewan will fare next best in 2010 with 3.7-per-cent growth based largely on the rebound in potash production. The prairie province also has a robust oil industry.

And after taking the full force of the recession this year, Ontario is also forecast to beat national growth with a 3.2-per-cent recovery, helped by public spending on infrastructure.

Quebec’s recession was not as severe this year, says the think-tank’s report, but with growth of 2.4 per cent, the province will lag behind the national average next year.

Only Newfoundland will fail to emerge from recession next year, says the Conference Board, as declining offshore oil production and weaker construction activity will again shrink the economy by 0.5 per cent, after falling 3.6 per cent this year.

The think-tank says Manitoba and the Maritime provinces managed to avoid a recession altogether this year, but their growth will be modest next year.

The Winter Olympics will help British Columbia’s economy top the country next year with a winning 4.2 per cent rebound next year, says the report on provincial economies by the Conference Board.

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