OTTAWA - The chairman of Royal Bank of Canada warned that the country's standard of living would drop significantly if Quebec seceded.
The assessment by Allan Taylor was based on a study by the bank of the economic implications of Canadian disunity. Canadians are to vote Oct. 26 on a proposed constitutional agreement designed to keep Quebec in the union.
The study by Royal Bank, the country's largest commercial bank, said a breakup would cause the Canadian standard of living in 2000 to be about 16% lower than it would be if the country were to remain united.
The report said the loss of real income to an "ordinary" Canadian would be as much as $4,000 (Canadian) annually.
For the average household, or 2.6 persons, by the end of the decade the drop in annual real income would be around $ 10,000, Mr. Taylor said.
The report warned that the unemployment rate would climb as high as 15%. It also forecast that about 1.25 million Canadians would emigrate, mainly to the United States, where the standard of living would be 28% higher and unemployment rates eight percentage points lower.
It is a bread-and-butter issue, the banker said. "We are talking about losing jobs, about devaluing pensions and savings. We are talking about Canada and Quebec falling behind as our competitors advance."