May 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 May 1st, the Government of Nova Scotia announced it was renewing the state of emergency under the authority of the Emergency Management Act effective May 3rd until May 17th.
  • On May 1st, the Government of Saskatchewan announced it will begin Phase 1 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan on May 4th, gradually and slowly lifting restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On May 6th, the Government of British Columbia announced a phased approach to restarting the province. The Government said the province was currently in Phase 1 and that Phase 2 would begin in mid-May, which includes opening more non-essential businesses in keeping with safe operations plans.
  • On May 8th, the Government of New Brunswick announced the province's COVID-19 recovery plan had transitioned to the next phase, which includes the resumption of elective surgeries and the reopening of businesses and activities while working to prevent a resurgence of transmission.
  • On May 8th, the Government of Prince Edward Island announced a further easing of public health measures, which included permitting indoor and outdoor gatherings of a limited size, while maintaining physical distancing as much as possible.
  • On May 9th, the Government of Ontario announced it was opening provincial parks and conservation areas for limited day-use access and that recreational activities would be limited to walking, hiking, biking, and birdwatching.
  • On May 10th, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced it would enter Alert Level 4 on May 11th which permits the gradual resumption of some activities and business operations.
  • On May 12th, the Government of the Northwest Territories announced that the territory-wide Public Health Emergency and the State of Emergency had been extended effective May 13 until May 26, 2020. On May 26th, the Government extended the emergencies until June 9th.
  • On May 12th, the Government of Ontario announced it was extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 2nd. On May 27th, the Government extended all emergency orders in force under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 9th.
  • On May 13th, the Government of British Columbia announced it was extending the provincial state of emergency through May 26, 2020. On May 27th, the Government said it was extending the state of emergency until June 9th.
  • On May 13th, the Government of Alberta announced that some businesses and facilities could start to resume operations on May 14th in all areas except the cities of Calgary and Brooks.
  • On May 15th, the Government of Manitoba announced it had extended a province-wide state of emergency under The Emergency Measures Act, effective May 17th for a period of 30 days.
  • On May 28th, the Government of New Brunswick announced the declaration of emergency under the Emergency Measures Act had been extended for another 14 days.

Selected COVID-19 responses

  • On May 5th, the Government of Canada announced measures within agriculture programs and an investment of more than $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors. The Government said it intends to propose an additional $200 million in borrowing capacity for the sector.
  • On May 7th, the Government of Canada announced that all provinces and territories had confirmed, or were in the process of confirming, plans to cost share wage top-ups for their essential workers. The Government said it would provide up to $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers and that each province or territory would determine which workers would be eligible for support, and how much they would receive.
  • On May 7th, the Government of Manitoba announced it was increasing infrastructure investments by an additional $500 million as part of an economic stimulus package to help restart Manitoba's economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On May 11th, the Government of Canada announced measures to support large and medium-sized businesses, including:
    • Establishing a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide bridge financing to Canada's largest employers;
    • Expanding the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs, including loans of up to $60 million per company and guarantees of up to $80 million; and
    • Continuing to provide financing to businesses through Farm Credit Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), and Export Development Canada (EDC), including through the Canada Account.
  • On May 12th, the Government of Canada announced a series of measures to help Canadian seniors, including:
    • Providing additional financial support of $2.5 billion for a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS);
    • Expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program with an additional investment of $20 million; and
    • Temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors' 2019 income information has not been assessed.
  • On May 15th, the Government of Canada announced it would extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020.
  • On May 19th, the Government of Canada announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to allow more Canadian small businesses to access interest free loans that will help cover operating costs during a period when revenues have been reduced, due to the pandemic.
  • On May 20th, the Government of Yukon announced that the Yukon Business Relief Program was being extended to provide continued support to Yukon businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Limited announced on May 7th that it was reducing its 2020 capital expenditure budget by an additional $280 million beyond the March 18, 2020 update. The company said that capital expenditures are now targeted to be approximately $2.68 billion, a $1.37 billion reduction from its original 2020 budget released in December 2019.
  • Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced on May 7th that it had initiated actions to reduce costs by approximately $300 million in 2020, including reductions to outside services and supply chain costs, company-wide salary rollbacks and a voluntary workforce reductions program. Enbridge also said that its 2020 capital expenditures will be approximately $1 billion lower than budgeted and that the deferred capital will be shifted into 2021.
  • Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. announced on May 5th that it had decided to further reduce the 2020 capital expenditure range to $3.6 billion to $4.0 billion, representing a further capital reduction of $400 million at mid‑point compared to the previous guidance. Suncor said that combined with the March 23, 2020 guidance updates, capital guidance has been reduced by $1.9 billion or approximately 33% compared to the original 2020 plan, and operating costs across the business by $1 billion or approximately 10% compared to 2019 levels.


  • Montreal-based Air Canada announced on May 4th that it had adopted the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) for most of its workforce which allowed it to return previously furloughed Canadian-based employees to its payroll for the March 15 to June 6, 2020 period. The Canadian Union of Public Employees reported on May 21st that Air Canada had recently announced that it will reduce its workforce by up to 60%.
  • Montreal-based Air Canada announced on May 22nd that due to COVID-19 it had to abridge its selling schedule for summer 2020, with 97 destinations down from 220 last year. The company said that within Canada, the schedule will increase from 34 routes in May to 58 routes in June, with more routes added in August and September. The company also said it will resume service to the U.S. on May 22nd.
  • Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. announced it had updated its schedule from June 5th through to July 4, 2020 to address significantly reduced guest demand for air travel. WestJet also said it was extending its temporary transborder and international route suspensions through June 25, 2020.
  • Burlington, Ontario-based Greyhound Canada announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was suspending all Greyhound Canada service until passenger travel demand recovers. The company said the temporary service suspension would take effect May 13, 2020.


  • On April 29th, Japan-based Toyota Motor Corporation announced it would postpone its ramp up of its North American manufacturing operations from the week of May 4th to the week of May 11th.
  • On May 4th, Toronto-based De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited announced that the company had started a phased return to work of employees and a measured resumption of activities. The company said the return to work follows the temporary suspension of manufacturing operations on March 20th.
  • On May 6th, Michigan-based General Motors Co. announced it was targeting to restart the majority of its manufacturing operations in the U.S. and Canada on May 18th.
  • On May 7th, Bombardier, Inc. announced it had begun the gradual resumption of manufacturing operations at both Aviation and Transportation to deliver the rail backlog and to continue the production ramp-up of the Global 7500.
  • On May 7th, Michigan-based Ford Motor Company announced was targeting a phased restart for its North America operations beginning May 18th, including restarting vehicle production in North America. Ford said the Oakville Assembly Complex in Oakville, Ontario, was expected to resume production the week of May 25th on one shift.
  • On May 8th, Japan-based Honda Motor Co. Ltd announced that starting May 11th, the company would gradually resume production of automobile, engine, and transmission production at its plants in the U.S. and Canada. Honda said the suspension of automobile production began on March 23rd.

Other news

  • Quebec's minimum wage increased from $12.50 per hour to $13.10 per hour on May 1st.
  • Montreal-based Reitmans (Canada) Limited announced it was seeking protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in order to facilitate its operational, commercial and financial restructuring. The company said it will remain fully operational through its brands' e-commerce websites; all physical stores will re-open in conformity with provincial and regional governmental guidelines.
  • Montreal-based Aldo Group Inc. announced it had placed itself under the protection of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in Canada and had decided to take similar reorganization procedures in the United States and Switzerland. Aldo said it would continue to operate throughout this process.

United States and other international news

  • The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted on May 6th to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.1%. The last change in the bank rate was a 65 basis points reduction in March 2020. The MPC also voted to continue with the programme of £200 billion of UK government bond and sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, to take the total stock of these purchases to £645 billion.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) maintained the target for the cash rate and the yield on 3-year Australian Government bonds at 0.25%. The last change in the target for the cash rate was a 50 basis points reduction in March 2020. The RBA also said it had scaled back the size and frequency of bond purchases, which to date have totalled around AUD $50 billion.
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) left the Official Cash Rate (OCR), its main policy rate, unchanged at 0.25%. The last change in the OCR was a 75 basis points reduction in March, 2020. The RBNZ also agreed to expand the Large Scale Asset Purchase (LSAP) programme potential to NZD $60 billion, up from the previous NZD $33 billion limit, which includes NZ Government Bonds, Local Government Funding Agency Bonds and, now, NZ Government Inflation-Indexed Bonds.
  • 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 and that it would continue to purchase Japanese government bonds (JGBs) so that the 10-year JGB yields will remain at around zero percent. The BoJ also said, with regards to asset purchases other than JGB purchases, it would (i) actively purchase exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Japan real estate investment trusts (J-REITs) for the time being, (ii) maintain CP and corporate bond amounts outstanding at about ¥2 trillion and ¥3 trillion, respectively, and (iii) provide funds to eligible counterparties against pooled collateral for up to 1 year at the loan rate of 0 percent to further support financing mainly of small and medium-sized firms.
  • The Executive Board of Norway's Norges Bank lowered the policy rate by 25 basis points to 0.00%. The last change in the policy rate was a 125 basis point reduction in March.
  • The Executive Board of Norway's Norges Bank also announced it had decided to exclude seven companies from the Government Pension Fund Global, including Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy Inc., Suncor Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Limited, ElSewedy Electric Co, Vale SA, and Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA.
  • Germany-based Deutsche Lufthansa AG announced that the Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) of the Federal Republic of Germany had approved the stabilization package for the company, including stabilization measures and loans of up to €9 billion. The company said the WSF will subscribe to shares by way of a capital increase in order to build up a 20% stake in the share capital of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
  • Chile-based LATAM Airlines Group S.A. announced that it and its affiliates in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and the United States initiated a voluntary reorganization and restructuring of their debt under Chapter 11 protection in the United States. LATAM said the group had secured the financial support of shareholders to provide up to $900 million in debtor-in-possession financing.
  • Illinois-based Boeing Co. announced it had resumed production of the 737 MAX at its Renton, Washington factory. Boeing also announced it would start involuntary layoffs and that 6,770 U.S. team members will be affected.
  • UK-based Rolls-Royce Holdings plc announced it was proposing a major reorganization of its business to adapt to the new level of demand it is seeing from customers, and, as a result, the company expects the loss of at least 9,000 roles from its global workforce of 52,000.
  • Texas-based Neiman Marcus Group LTD LLC announced it had entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement with a significant majority of its creditors to undergo a financial restructuring, and that it had commenced voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings. The company said it had secured debtor-in-possession financing of USD $675 million from creditors to enable business continuity throughout proceedings.
  • New York-based J. Crew Group, Inc. announced it had reached an agreement with its lenders under which the company would restructure its debt and deleverage its balance sheet and that, to facilitate the restructuring, the parent company of J. Crew Group, Inc., Chinos Holdings, Inc. and certain affiliates had filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. J. Crew said it had secured commitments for a debtor-in-possession financing facility of USD $400 million and that it expects to support its operations during the restructuring process.
  • Texas-based J.C. Penney Company, Inc. announced it had filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code. The company said it had received commitments for USD $900 million in debtor-in-possession financing and that, as part of its ongoing transformation, the company will reduce its store footprint in phases throughout the Chapter 11 process.
  • Florida-based Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. announced it and certain of its U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries had filed for voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy court. Hertz said all of its businesses globally are open and serving customers.
  • Ohio-based L Brands announced it will close approximately 250 Victoria's Secret stores in the U.S. and Canada in 2020.

Financial market news

  • West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at USD $35.49 per barrel on May 29th, up from a closing value of USD $18.84 at the end of April. Western Canadian Select crude oil continued to trade lower but rose steadily throughout the month. The Canadian dollar closed at 72.53 cents U.S. on May 29th, up from 71.89 cents U.S. at the end of April. The S&P/TSX composite index closed at 15,192.83 on May 29th, up from 14,780.74 at the end of April.
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