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Report: Canadian Economy Weakening

Measure of Canadians' purchasing power plunged 15.3 percent in the fourth quarter, while gross domestic product shrank 3.4 percent.

OTTAWA (CP) -- The parliamentary budget officer says the Canadian economy is doing even worse than published figures would suggest.

Kevin Page says in a new assessment of the economy that last quarter's 3.4 percent contraction in gross domestic product doesn't begin to reflect how far Canada's performance has fallen.

He says an even better indicator is gross domestic income, which measures Canadians' purchasing power, and that shows a plunge of 15.3 percent in the fourth quarter over the previous three months.

The sharp drop was primarily driven by the decline in corporate profits as a result of the crash in world commodity prices, the report states, and notes that it is far worse than the 1.5 percent contraction in the U.S. during the same period.

The report undermines somewhat Prime Minister Stephen Harper's relatively rosy analysis Tuesday that Canada was doing significantly better than its competitors.

The report says even the often-cited GDP figures which finds the U.S. economy shrinking by 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter compared to Canada's 3.4 percent are misleading.

Those are annualized figures, Page notes, adding that compared to a year ago, Canada's GDP is down 0.7 percent and the U.S. by 0.8 percent, almost identical records.

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