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Gas consumption hits all-time high Add to ...

Nothing seems to shake Canadians' desire to drive.

As the global recession and relatively high gas prices have eroded Americans' gasoline consumption and forced changes in their commuting habits, Canadians have kept on trucking.

This April, Canadian consumption of gasoline rose to an all-time high, even as the recession was still eating away at economic activity and gas prices were creeping up.

"We don't scare easy," said Philip Cross, chief economic analyst at Statistics Canada.

Gasoline consumption was about 3.6 per cent higher in April 2009 than a year earlier, according to new data from Statistics Canada that are adjusted to eliminate price effects and seasonal factors. In those terms, Canadians spent $1.893-billion to fill their engines that month - the most ever.

Canadians weren't completely immune to the effects of the global recession and high gas prices. Last summer, drivers did cut back as the recession took hold in Canada and gasoline prices soared.

But consumption climbed again last fall and stabilized during the darkest days of the recession. And as soon as the labour market slowed its free-fall this spring, gasoline consumption resumed its upward track - even though gasoline prices have been climbing since the beginning of this year.

It's another sign that the global recession has not been nearly as corrosive in Canada as in the United States, Mr. Cross said, and that employment and incomes are not declining as much here.

Indeed, he notes that auto sales have picked up because of increased purchases of trucks - not the more gas-efficient cars that would fit with the pattern of a recession-weary consumer.

 

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