In a recent article from the Edmonton Journal, Alberta Central Chief Economist Charles St-Arnaud was interviewed on his thoughts around the potential delayed impacts of COVID-19 on Alberta’s economy. He was also featured on Global News Calgary in an interview on the same topic, a clip of which can be found here.

Read the full Edmonton Journal article, originally posted here, below.

COVID-19 impacts on economy may be delayed: economist

The effects of COVID-19 on the province’s economy likely won’t be seen for months, Alberta Central‘s chief economist says.

Charles St-Arnaud said Wednesday we haven’t yet seen the peak of the shock from COVID-19 on the Canadian economy.

“I think we’re haven’t seen the peak of the transmission of the virus … and we’ll continue to see some more casing coming up and more impact on economic activity as we go by,” St-Arnaud said. However, he believes the impact of the virus will be relatively short, possibly a question of months.

The problem for economists in being able to predict the effects, however, is delays in data, St-Arnaud said.

“A lot of the data comes in with a lag of about two months,” St-Arnaud said. For example, the central banking facility for Alberta credit unions did not receive January’s trade numbers until last week.

“So we have to rely on kind of more anecdotal evidence.”

That anecdotal evidence includes information from transportation companies.

“There were some transportation companies in Vancouver that were saying that volumes of containers coming from China are significantly lower than it was at the same time last year. So suggesting obviously, imports from China are much weaker.”

Overall, St-Arnaud predicts Canada will likely see shortages in areas such as the auto sector and technology due to less production out of China.

Here in Alberta, St-Arnaud believes we’ll see more impact on business travel, conferences and cancellations of hotels.

“The question here is for how long will we have those very low levels of oil prices. The longer they last, the more negative impacts it will have on the Alberta economy,” St-Arnaud said.

“I would say as an economist focusing mainly on Alberta, I’m more concerned about the drop in oil prices than by the coronavirus.”

What St-Arnaud is predicting for travel, the Edmonton International Airport is already seeing.

In a statement, EIA vice-president Steve Maybee said the airport’s overall numbers are less than this time last year.

But, he said there are several factors that can account for this, like the 737 Max grounding, to the local economy, so it’s difficult to determine the effect of COVID-19 on travel.

“However there will certainly be an impact and we may have more information to share in the coming weeks,” Maybee said.The airport has also been in constant communication with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, and Alberta Health Services over the coronavirus. The airport has worked with CBSA to install additional signs for travellers at CBSA’s request and have started additional cleaning.

“All CBSA (Canada Customs) primary inspection kiosk screens are cleaned after each flight and all CBSA counters and passenger touchpoints are sanitized after each flight. Hand sanitizer stations located at each washroom and elevator are checked three times a day to ensure they are full and operating,” Maybee said.

“We have also focused our cleaning of any place that travellers might touch, such as elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, airline countertops, washrooms, self serve kiosks and handrails on airport seating.”

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