April 2020 edition

This module provides a concise summary of selected Canadian economic events, as well as international and financial market developments by calendar month. It is intended to provide contextual information only to support users of the economic data published by Statistics Canada. In identifying major events or developments, Statistics Canada is not suggesting that these have a material impact on the published economic data in a particular reference month.

All information presented here is obtained from publicly available news and information sources, and does not reflect any protected information provided to Statistics Canada by survey respondents.

COVID-19 timeline

  • On April 15th, the Government of the Northwest Territories extended the territory-wide Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency until May 12th.
  • On April 5th, the Government of Quebec extended the closure of non-essential businesses until May 4th.
  • On April 16th, the Government of Prince Edward Island declared a state of emergency and renewed the state of public health emergency. The Government of New Brunswick extended its state of emergency until April 30th.
  • On April 17th, the Government of Nova Scotia announced it was renewing the state of emergency under the authority of the Emergency Management Act until May 3rd.
  • On April 20th, the Government of Manitoba extended its state of emergency for an additional 30 days.
  • On April 23rd, the Government of Ontario announced it was extending all emergency orders that had been put in place to date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, until May 6th.
  • On April 29th, the Government of British Columbia announced it was extending the provincial state of emergency for the third time through May 12th.

Selected COVID-19 responses

  • On April 11th, the Government of Canada announced that Bill C-14, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, No. 2, had received Royal Assent. The Government said this legislation includes additional flexibilities, announced on April 8, 2020, and that with these improvements, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will provide support to those eligible employers that are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. CEWS would apply at a rate of 75% of the first $58,700 earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week, per employee. The Government said that the program will be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
  • On April 14th, the Government of Saskatchewan announced it was implementing a series of relief measures for the provincial oil and gas sector in response to the unprecedented economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  • On April 15th, the Bank of Canada announced it was maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 0.25%, continuing to purchase at least $5 billion in Government of Canada securities per week in the secondary market, and temporarily increasing the amount of Treasury Bills it acquires at auctions to up to 40%, effective immediately. The Bank also announced new measures to provide additional support to Canada's financial system, including:
    • The development of a new Provincial Bond Purchase Program of up to $50 billion to supplement its Provincial Money Market Purchase Program;
    • A new Corporate Bond Purchase Program, in which the Bank will acquire up to a total of $10 billion in investment grade corporate bonds in the secondary market; and
    • Further enhancing its term repo facility to permit funding for up to 24 months.
  • On April 15th, the Government of Canada announced it will be changing the eligibility rules of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to:
    • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB;
    • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak; and
    • Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
  • On April 16th, the Government of Canada announced new measures to support Canadian businesses, including:
    • Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019;
    • The intent to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program for small businesses to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent for small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June.
  • On April 22nd, the Government of Canada announced support of nearly $9 billion for post-secondary students and recent graduates, including the proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit and the new Canada Student Service Grant.
  • On April 22nd, the Government of Manitoba announced it was providing up to $120 million to support Manitoba's small and medium-sized businesses that are facing significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On April 23rd, the Government of Canada announced more than $1 billion in support of a national medical research strategy to fight COVID-19 that includes vaccine development, the production of treatments, and tracking of the virus. The Government said the new funding builds on the $275 million investment for coronavirus research and medical countermeasures announced in March.
  • On April 23rd, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, a phased approach to slowly lifting restrictions.
  • On April 24th, the Government of Canada announced it had reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program for small businesses. The Government said the program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.
  • On April 24th, the Government of New Brunswick announced the first of four phases of New Brunswick's recovery plan and the loosening of some public health restrictions. The Government said the phased plan will allow health experts to monitor and evaluate the impact of the lifting of restrictions, and that at any time restrictions that have been lifted may quickly be reinstated to protect public health.
  • On April 24th, the Government of Alberta announced The Site Rehabilitation Program – a $1 billion program mainly funded by the Federal Government's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan – that will provide grants to oilfield service contractors to perform well, pipeline, and oil and gas site reclamation work. The Government said the program is expected to create about 5,300 direct jobs and lead to the cleanup of thousands of sites.
  • The City of Calgary announced on April 24th that all public events have been cancelled until August 31, 2020, which includes the Calgary Stampede, due to COVID-19.
  • On April 26th, the Government of Ontario announced that all publicly-funded schools will remain closed until at least May 31st.
  • On April 27th, the Government of Ontario announced A Framework for Reopening our Province which outlines the guiding principles for the gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.
  • On April 27th, the Government of Quebec announced the gradual reopening of preschool, primary schools and educational childcare services from May 11th.
  • On April 28th, the Government of Quebec announced the gradual reopening of various economic sectors in May.
  • On April 28th, the Government of Prince Edward Island announced the Renew PEI, Together plan that outlines the guiding principles and phased approach to the reopening of businesses, services and public spaces, with the first phase beginning May 1st.
  • On April 29th, the Government of Manitoba announced it will begin a multi-phase effort in early May to gradually restore services, open some businesses and increase recreational opportunities.
  • On April 30th, the Government of Alberta announced the first incremental steps of a phased approach to reopen some businesses and services beginning May 4th.
  • On April 30th, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced A Foundation for Living with COVID-19, which includes five alert levels. The Government said that depending on which level the province is in, public health restrictions will be gradually relaxed and that the province would move to Alert Level 4 from Alert Level 5 on May 11th.


  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced on April 12th that all OPEC and non-OPEC participating countries agreed to adjust downwards their overall crude oil production by 9.7 mb/d, starting on May 1, 2020, for an initial period of two months that concludes on June 30, 2020. OPEC said that for the subsequent period of 6 months, from July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, the total adjustment agreed will be 7.7 mb/d, followed by a 5.8 mb/d adjustment for a period of 16 months, from January 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022.
  • Calgary-based TC Energy Corporation announced on March 31st that it will proceed with construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, resulting in an investment of approximately USD $8.0 billion into the North American economy, and that the pipeline is expected to enter into service in 2023. The Government of Alberta announced it had finalized an agreement with TC Energy to provide financial support to accelerate construction of the pipeline starting April 1st. The Government said the investment will include $1.5 billion in equity investment in 2020 followed by a $6 billion loan guarantee in 2021.
  • Calgary-based Imperial Oil Limited announced on March 31st an updated capital outlook of $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion for 2020, a $500 million (30%) reduction compared to original guidance of $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion. Imperial also said that in addition to the reduction in capital spending, it had identified opportunities to reduce operating expenses by $500 million compared to 2019 levels.
  • Calgary-based Cenovus Energy Inc. announced on April 2nd that it had decided to reduce its planned 2020 capital spending by an additional $150 million which, combined with the $450 million reduction announced in March, 2020, is a $600 million decrease from the budget released in December, 2019. Cenovus said the new capital expenditure guidance of $750 million to $850 million is a 43% reduction from the budget released in December 2019 and that the remaining capital budget is focused on sustaining oil sands production and refining operations.
  • Calgary-based Athabasca Oil Corporation announced on April 2nd that due to the significant decline in oil prices combined with the economic uncertainty associated to the ongoing COVID crisis, it had decided to suspend the Hangingstone SAGD operation. Athabasca said that as part of this action, it is reducing its corporate staff count by 15%. The company also said it has now cancelled a total of $40 million of capital expenditures, representing a 30% reduction from the original 2020 budget.
  • Calgary-based Parkland Fuel Corporation announced on April 6th it was nearing completion of the required work for the 2020 Burnaby refinery turnaround and had begun the startup sequence for the facility. Parkland said it expects an approximate two-week process to reach full operational capability when accounting for additional coronavirus preventative safety measures.
  • Texas-based ConocoPhillips announced on April 16th that it was taking further actions to respond to the oil market downturn, including an additional reduction in 2020 operating plan capital expenditures of USD $1.6 billion. The company said that including its previously announced reduction of USD $0.7 billion, this represents a total reduction in operating plan capital expenditures of USD $2.3 billion, or approximately 35%, compared to 2020 announced guidance. The company also said that these reductions are primarily focused on its Lower 48, Alaska and Canada areas.
  • Calgary-based Husky Energy Inc. announced on April 20th that it was significantly reducing capital expenditures and shutting in negative cash margin production as further measures to strengthen its business given market conditions caused by COVID-19. The company said it was further reducing capital investment by $700 million; suspending the rebuild construction at the Superior Refinery in Wisconsin; suspending construction of the 10,000 barrel-per-day Spruce Lake North thermal project, originally scheduled for completion around the end of 2020; reducing or shutting in Western Canada oil and gas production, with no further capital expenditures planned in 2020; and suspending major construction activities related to the West White Rose Project due to COVID-19.
  • Toronto-based Agnico Eagle Mines Limited announced on April 2nd that, pursuant to the Government of Mexico's decree relating to the COVID-19 pandemic that all non-essential businesses suspend operations until April 30, 2020, mining operations at the company's Mexico operations are ramping down activities in an orderly fashion. The company also said that in Nunavut, it has modified its staffing levels to allow operations to continue at reduced levels. On April 14th, the company announced it was taking steps to resume its operations in the Abitibi region of Quebec in an orderly fashion.
  • Vancouver-based Endeavour Silver Corp. announced it had commenced the process of suspending its three mining operations in Mexico until April 30, 2020 as mandated by the Government of Mexico.
  • Vancouver-based Equinox Gold Corp. announced it would temporarily suspend mining activities at its Los Filos Mine in Guerrero State, Mexico in compliance with a recent order by the Federal Government of Mexico. The Company also said it had temporarily suspended operations at its Pilar Mine in Goiás State, Brazil in compliance with State Government restrictions. The Company said its other producing mines continue to operate normally.
  • Vancouver-based Pan American Silver Corp. announced it will bring its La Colorada and Dolores operations into compliance with the Government of Mexico's Executive Order. The Company also said it had begun to voluntarily reduce throughput by approximately 10% to 20% at its Timmins operation in Canada.


  • Toronto-based Indigo Books & Music Inc. announced on April 13th that as a result of the recently announced Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, Indigo had returned approximately 545 salaried retail leadership employees to its payroll effective April 12, 2020. Indigo said it had temporarily closed its retail locations on March 17, 2020 and temporarily laid-off 5,200 of its retail employees.
  • Toronto-based Roots Corporation announced on April 29th the liquidation of Roots USA Corporation, its U.S. subsidiary, through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. Roots said the filing will result in the permanent closure of the Company's stores in Boston, Washington and Chicago, as well as its pop-up location in Woodbury Common, New York.


  • Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. announced on April 19th that is was removing approximately 4,000 weekly flights or 600 daily flights from May 5 through June 4, 2020 and that the changes are required to address significantly reduced guest demand during the COVID-19 crisis. WestJet said it continues to serve the 38 Canadian airports to which it currently operates and that all transborder and international routes remain suspended through June 4, 2020. Subsequently, on April 22nd, WestJet announced that in light of its further reduced operations, the airline will increase its current inactive workforce by a further 3,000 people come early May.
  • Montreal-based Air Canada announced on April 21st that it was suspending scheduled service to the U.S. after April 26th as a result of the agreement between the Governments of Canada and the United States to extend border restrictions by an additional 30 days, effective April 21st. Air Canada said it plans to resume service to the U.S. on May 22nd.


  • Mississauga-based Maple Leaf Foods, Inc. announced on April 8th it was suspending operations in its Brampton Poultry plant in Brampton, Ontario in order to complete an investigation into three COVID cases that had occurred with people working at that facility. The company said on April 16th it was resuming operations with further additional protective measures in place and following CDC guidance.
  • Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec-based Olymel S.E.C. announced on April 11th that after having implemented all the public health recommendations of the public health department of the Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre, its hog slaughter and cutting plant in Yamachiche, in Mauricie, would resume operations starting April 14th. The company had previously announced on March 29th the temporary closure of the hog slaughter and cutting plant for a period of 14 days and that the closure would affect nearly 1,000 employees.
  • Minnesota-based Cargill, Incorporated announced on April 29th the decision to resume operations at its High River, Alberta Protein facility beginning May 4th. The company said that during the 14-day temporary closure it had implemented additional safety measures to respond to the community-wide impacts of the virus.

Other news

  • The Government of Canada announced on April 3rd that it had notified the United States and Mexico that it had completed the domestic ratification process of the new NAFTA. The Government said it will continue to work with the United States and Mexican governments to determine an 'entry into force' date that is mutually beneficial.
  • On April 9th, the Government of Ontario announced the ratification of the central agreement with the Ontario English Catholic Teacher's Association (OECTA) and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association (OCSTA). Subsequently, on April 28th, the Government of Ontario announced the ratification of the central agreements with the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA), and the ETFO Education Workers and the Council of Trustees' Association (CTA).
  • On April 28th, the Government of Alberta announced that flooding, due to ice jams on the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers in Fort McMurray and the Peace River in Mackenzie County, had led to evacuation orders for some residents of Fort McMurray, Fort Vermilion and Tallcree First Nation at Beaver Ranch. The Government said on May 2nd that the ice jam on the Athabasca River released on May 1st and that water levels had returned to pre-event conditions. The Government also said that ice runs continue on the Clearwater River and that water levels continue to decrease at the downtown Fort McMurray gauge.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador's minimum wage increased from $11.40 per hour to $11.65 per hour on April 1st.
  • Prince Edward Island's minimum wage increased from $12.25 per hour to $12.85 per hour on April 1st.
  • New Brunswick's minimum wage increased from $11.50 per hour to $11.70 per hour on April 1st.
  • Nova Scotia's minimum wage increased from $11.55 per hour to $12.55 per hour on April 1st.
  • Yukon's minimum wage increased from $12.71 per hour to $13.71 per hour on April 1st.
  • On May 1st, the Government of Canada announced that Tiff Macklem will be appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada, effective June 3, 2020, replacing Stephen S. Poloz, who has led the Bank since 2013.
  • Montreal-based CAE Inc. announced it had taken measures to protect its financial position in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including temporarily laying off 2,600 of its 10,500 employees and placing another 900 employees on a reduced work week. The company also said it was developing an easy-to-manufacture ventilator which will provide life support to patients in intensive care.

United States and other international news

  • On April 2nd, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he had issued an order under the Defense Production Act to more fully ensure that domestic manufacturers can produce ventilators.
  • On April 9th, European Union (EU) finance ministers announced an economic policy response to the COVID19 outbreak, including €100 billion for a temporary European instrument to support national safety nets; €200 billion of lending with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises; and close to €240 billion to establish a Pandemic Crisis Support for EU member countries.
  • On April 16th, U.S. President Donald Trump presented his guidelines on the three phases of Opening Up America Again.
  • On April 24th, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law Bill H.R. 266, the "Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act," which provides additional fiscal year 2020 emergency supplemental funding to increase amounts authorized and appropriated for commitments for the Paycheck Protection Program authorized under section 7(a) of the Small Business Act, economic injury disaster loans and emergency grants under the CARES Act, to fund hospital and provider recovery and testing, and for other purposes.
  • The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) maintained the target range for the federal funds interest rate at 0.00% to 0.25% and said it will continue to purchase Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning. The last change in the target range for the federal funds rate was a 100 basis point decrease announced on March 15, 2020.
  • The Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced it will continue to apply a -0.1% interest rate to the Policy-Rate Balances in current accounts held by financial institutions at the BoJ. The BoJ also said that it judged it appropriate to further enhance monetary easing through (i) an increase in purchases of commercial paper and corporate bonds, (ii) strengthening of the Special Funds-Supplying Operations to Facilitate Financing in Response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and (iii) further active purchases of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) and treasury discount bills.
  • The European Central Bank (ECB) announced that (i) the interest rate on the main refinancing operations of the Eurosystem would be left unchanged at 0.00%, and that the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility would also be left unchanged at 0.25% and -0.50%, respectively; (ii) net purchases under the asset purchase programme will continue at a monthly pace of €20 billion, together with the purchases under the additional €120 billion temporary envelope until the end of the year; and (iii) purchases under the Governing Council's new pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) will continue to be conducted.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia reaffirmed the targets for the cash rate and the yield on 3-year Australian government bonds of 25 basis points, as well as the other elements of the package announced on March 19, 2020.
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) announced it had added $3 billion of Local Government Funding Agency debt to its Large Scale Asset Purchase programme. The RBNZ said this takes the total size of the LSAP to $33 billion over 12 months.
  • Sweden's Riksbank announced that as a next step in its bond-purchasing programme, the Executive Board had decided to purchase bonds issued by Swedish municipalities and regions and by Kommuninvest i Sverige AB for a nominal amount of SEK 15 billion. Subsequently, on April 28th, the Executive Board of the Riksbank decided to continue purchases of government and mortgage bonds up to the end of September 2020 and to leave its main interest rate, the repo rate, unchanged at 0.00%.
  • Colorado-based Whiting Petroleum Corporation and certain subsidiaries announced they had commenced voluntary Chapter 11 cases under the United States Bankruptcy Code. The company said it will continue to operate its business in the normal course without material disruption to its vendors, partners or employees.
  • Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corporation announced that capital investments for 2020 are now expected to be about USD $23 billion, down from the previously announced USD $33 billion. Exxon said the largest share of the capital spending reduction will be in the Permian Basin.
  • Texas-based Kinder Morgan Inc. announced on April 22nd that with the collapse of OPEC-plus on March 6th and the widespread shut down of the U.S. economy beginning in mid-March, the company was reducing its expenses and sustaining capital expenditures by over USD $100 million and that it had also reduced its expansion capital outlook for 2020 by approximately USD $700 million, or almost 30%.
  • Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, Inc. announced on April 12th that its Sioux Falls, South Dakota facility will remain closed until further notice amid COVID-19. Smithfield said it will resume operations in Sioux Falls once further direction is received from local, state and federal officials.
  • Colorado-based JBS USA Holdings, Inc. announced on April 13th the temporary closure of the Greeley beef production facility until April 24, 2020. On April 20th, JBS USA announced the indefinite closure of its Worthington, Minnesota pork production facility. JBS said the facility employs more than 2,000 team members and processes 20,000 hogs per day.
  • Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, Inc. announced plans on April 22nd to indefinitely suspend operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant. Tyson said the facility had been running at reduced levels of production due to worker absenteeism, and will stop production mid-week until further notice. Tyson also announced on April 22nd that its Logansport, Indiana facility will voluntarily close while its more than 2,200 team members undergo testing and that the facility has been running at limited production since April 20th. Tyson later announced on April 23rd that it will temporarily halt production at its Pasco, Washington beef facility while team members undergo testing.
  • Indiana-based Indiana Packers Corporation (IPC) announced on April 24th that it had decided to temporarily suspend operations at its Delphi facility. IPC said the winding down would be conducted in phases over several days and that the temporary suspension was expected to last no longer than two weeks.
  • Washington State-based Amazon.com, Inc. announced on April 13th that its original 100,000 jobs pledge was filled, and those new employees were working at sites across the U.S. The company said it would be creating an additional 75,000 jobs to help serve customers.
  • Washington State-based Boeing announced on April 16th that it would resume all Commercial Airplanes production in a phased approach at its Puget Sound-region facilities the following week, after suspending operations in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Boeing said approximately 27,000 people in the Puget Sound area will return to production of the 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs.

Financial market news

  • West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at USD $18.84 per barrel on April 30th, down from a closing value of USD $20.48 at the end of March. Western Canadian Select crude oil continued to trade below USD $10 per barrel during April. The Canadian dollar closed at 71.89 cents U.S. on April 30th, up from 70.49 cents U.S. at the end of March. The S&P/TSX composite index closed at 14,780.74 on April 30th, up from a closing value of 13,378.75 at the end of March.
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