FILE PHOTO: Canada’s Minister of Finance Bill Morneau speaks during Question Period at the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable
OTTAWA (Reuters) – The spreading coronavirus outbreak will hit the Canadian economy, in particular the tourism sector, supply chains and the struggling oil industry, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Monday.
Morneau told a business audience in Calgary that prices for crude – one of Canada’s major exports – had dipped by 15% on lower demand since the outbreak started in China. Calgary, the energy capital of Canada, has been hard hit by low prices and limited pipeline capacity.
The death toll from the epidemic rose to 908, all but two in mainland China, on Sunday as 97 more fatalities were recorded. The virus has spread to at least 27 countries and territories, including Canada.
“Certainly we are paying very close attention in Ottawa … we know the impact is real and it’s going to be felt across the country, but perhaps even more so here in the oil and gas sector,” Morneau said in comments that were webcast.
He also cited impacts on tourism and the supply chains of any business that was integrated with Chinese producers or consumers. Airlines have sharply cut back flights to and from China.
The Canadian economy remained strong, Morneau said, citing significant job growth since 2015 and low debt levels.
Last week the Bank of Canada said the outbreak could hurt the domestic economy by disrupting supply chains and depressing oil prices.
The impact on the global economy could be significant, Morneau said, adding that the outbreak would be a central topic at a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 leading and emerging economies in Riyadh next week.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot