TORONTO - Saskatchewan will lead other Canadian provinces in economic growth this year, thanks to a rebound in the oil, potash, agriculture and uranium sectors, CIBC World Markets says in a new report released Thursday.

CIBC estimates Saskatchewan's economic output will grow 3.0 per cent in 2010 and 4.1 per cent in 2011.

That's well ahead of CIBC's estimate for Canada's overall growth this year, projected to be only 2.3 per cent above last year.

"The West will reap the benefits of reinvigorated Asia-Pacific growth," says economist Warren Lovely in CIBC's latest Economic Insights report.

"Oil, potash, agriculture and uranium sectors are again in demand, with ongoing development paving the way for production increases."

Although Saskatchewan has a population of less than one million people, it is rich in a number of important natural resources and home to several major companies, including uranium producer Cameco Corp. (TSX:CCJ), grain handler Viterra Inc. (TSX:VT) and fertilizer giant PotashCorp. (TSX:POT).

In addition, the Bakken shale formation in southern Saskatchewan, has been the focus of heavy exploration and development by numerous oil and gas companies.

"Expect Saskatchewan to lead all provinces in 2010, and to battle Alberta for top spot in 2011," Lovely said

CIBC projects that British Columbia will have the second-fastest growing provincial economy this year at 2.8 per cent, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador at 2.6 per cent.

The other Top 5 provinces this year will be Alberta and Ontario, tied at 2.4 per cent growth. Both had a rough 2009, with weakness in Alberta's oil and gas drilling sector and a slowdown in oilsands growth and the restructuring of Ontario's automotive and manufacturing sectors, with numerous plant closures and job cuts.

Quebec and the three Maritimes provinces will lag other provinces and the country's overall growth this year, according to CIBC's estimates.

P.E.I. will have the slowest expansion at 1.8 per cent, with Nova Scotia growing at 2.1 per cent and the provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec tied at 2.2 per cent - one percentage point below Canada's projected 2010 GDP growth.

For next year, CIBC expects Alberta to surpass Saskatchewan to lead the country in growth, with their economies growing by 4.2 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.

Other estimates for 2011 growth (2010 in brackets):

Canada: 3.0 per cent (2.3 per cent)

Newfoundland and Labrador: 3.3 (2.6)

P.E.I.: 2.4 (1.8)

Nova Scotia: 2.6 (2.1)

New Brunswick: 2.8 (2.2)

Quebec: 2.7 (2.2)

Ontario: 2.8 (2.4)

Manitoba: 3.1 (2.3)

British Columbia: 3.4 (2.8)

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