February 2016 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.


  • Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell plc announced it was postponing a final investment decision on Vancouver-based LNG, Canada's proposed natural gas export terminal near Kitimat B.C., until later in 2016. The company also announced that it was reducing its global workforce by 10,000.
  • Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. announced it was reducing its 2016 capital guidance to between $6.0 billion and $6.5 billion, down from estimates of $6.7 billion to $7.3 billion, which had been announced in November 2015. The reduction will, in part, be based on deferring planned maintenance (until 2017) at its Firebag oil sands project, located northeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta.
  • Calgary-based Encana Corporation announced it would lower its 2016 planned capital spending to between $900 million and $1 billion, down 55% from 2015 levels. The company also said it would reduce its workforce by approximately 20%, bringing the total reduction of its workforce to over 50% since 2013.
  • Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced it would defer about $5 billion in capital spending, originally planned for 2016 and 2017 to 2018 and early 2019, since it is delaying two replacement pipeline projects to Wisconsin.
  • Calgary-based Cenovus Energy Inc. announced it was lowering its planned 2016 capital spending to between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion, down from its original budget of $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion, which had been announced in December 2015.
  • Nevada-based Tahoe Resources Inc. announced it would purchase Lake Shore Gold Corp., with operations in Timmins, Ontario, for $945 million. Both companies said they expect the deal to close in April 2016 pending shareholder approval.
  • Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation announced it would spend over USD $2 billion on projects in Peru and in the U.S., beginning in 2019. The company said it would spend $640 million to extend the life of the Lagunas Norte mine in Peru and nearly $1.5 billion on the Goldrush, Turquoise, and Cortez projects, in Nevada.


  • St. John's, Newfoundland-based Fortis Inc. announced it would acquire Michigan-based ITC Holdings Corp. for USD $11.3 billion. ITC owns and operates high-voltage transmission facilities in Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. Fortis and ITC said they expect the deal to close in late 2016, following regulatory and shareholder approval.
  • Oakville, Ontario-based Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. announced it would acquire The Empire District Electric Company, a Missouri-based electric, gas, and water utility, for $3.4 billion. The company said it expects the deal to close in the first quarter of 2017, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.


  • North Carolina-based Lowe's Companies, Inc. announced it would buy Boucherville, Quebec-based RONA Inc. for $3.2 billion, subject to RONA shareholder approval.
  • Saks Fifth Avenue opened its first two stores in Canada, both in Toronto.
  • Toronto-based Danier Leather Inc. announced it had commenced insolvency proceedings in order to run an orderly and flexible sale and investor process.


  • Bombardier Inc. and Air Canada announced that they had signed a letter of intent for the sale and purchase of 45 CS300 aircraft, with an option to buy an additional 30 aircraft. Bombardier said that, based on the current list price, a firm order would be valued at approximately $3.8 billion. The company said the new aircraft will start delivering in 2019. Bombardier also announced it would reduce its global workforce by approximately 7,000 throughout 2016 and 2017, mostly in Canada and Europe.

Other news

  • The Government of Canada announced new funding of up to $113 million, for each of the next three fiscal years, for the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program. This funding will increase the number of student summer jobs to nearly 70,000 in 2016, 2017 and 2018, from over 34,000 in 2015.
  • New mortgage rules, introduced by the Government of Canada in December 2015, became effective on February 15. The minimum down payment for new insured mortgages increased to 10% from 5% for the portion of the house price above $500,000. The 5% minimum down payment for properties up to $500,000 remains unchanged.
  • The Government of Canada announced changes to Canada's economic sanctions against Iran, including lifting the broad ban on financial services, exports, and imports. Canada continues to restrict exports to Iran of goods, services, as well as technologies deemed sensitive from a security perspective.
  • The Government of Canada announced it would provide Alberta with a $251 million advance payment under the Fiscal Stabilization Program. The program enables the federal government to provide financial assistance to any province facing a greater than 5% year-over-year decline in non-resource revenues.
  • The Alberta Government announced a new $500 million Petrochemicals Diversification Program that will award royalty credits to select petrochemical facilities through a competitive application process.
  • On February 16, the British Columbia Government tabled a fourth consecutive balanced budget, which included changes to the Property Transfer Tax. A full exemption was set on newly-built homes valued up to $750,000, while the property transfer tax rate was raised to 3% from 2% on the portion of fair market value over $2 million. The Budget also established the B.C. Prosperity Fund with an initial commitment of $100 million from the forecasted 2015–16 surplus.
  • On February 25, the Ontario Government tabled its 2016 budget, which included a cap-and-trade program to lower carbon emissions, an Ontario Student Grant program to provide free post-secondary education to low-income families, as well as tax increases on wine and tobacco. The government said it would reduce the deficit to $4.3 billion in 2016-17, from $5.7 billion in 2015-16.

United States and other international news

  • Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corporation announced it was reducing its 2016 capital and exploration expenditures by 25% to USD $23.2 billion.
  • UK-based BP plc announced it expects to reduce the number of staff and contractors by about 4,000 in 2016 and by up to 3,000 more by the end of 2017. The company also said it expects its capital expenditures in 2016 to be at the lower end of a USD $17 billion to $19 billion range, compared with $18.7 billion in 2015.
  • Texas-based ConocoPhillips announced it was reducing its planned 2016 capital spending to USD $7.7 billion, 25% lower than its expected 2015 capital spending. The company said about USD $0.8 billion will be spent in Canada, a roughly 30% decline from 2015 levels.
  • Oklahoma-based Devon Energy Corporation announced it would reduce its workforce by approximately 20% in the first quarter of 2016, bringing its total workforce reduction to more than 25% in the last 12 months. The company also announced it would reduce its 2016 exploration and development capital spending to between USD $900 million and $1.1 billion, a 75% decline from 2015 levels.
  • Texas-based Marathon Oil Corporation announced it would lower its 2016 capital expenditures to USD $1.4 billion, a more than 50% reduction from 2015 levels.
  • Sweden's Riksbank announced it lowered the repo rate, its main interest rate, by 15 basis points to - 0.5%.
  • Prime Minister David Cameron announced a referendum would be held on June 23 to decide whether the U.K. would remain in the European Union.

Financial market news

  • Crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) closed at USD $33.75 per barrel on February 29, similar to the closing value of $33.62 at the end of January.
  • The Canadian dollar closed at 73.90 cents U.S. on February 29, up from 71.40 cents U.S. at the end of January.
  • The S&P/TSX closed at 12,860.35 on February 29, up from 12,822.13 at the end of January.