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.
- Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation announced it had entered into a strategic cooperation agreement with Shandong Gold Group Co., Ltd. of China pursuant to which Shandong will acquire 50% of Barrick's Veladero mine in Argentina for USD $960 million. Barrick had also previously announced in late March that it had reached an agreement with Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. to form a new partnership at the Cerro Casale Project in Chile, pursuant to which Goldcorp will purchase a 25% interest in the project from Barrick. Barrick said both transactions are expected to close in the second quarter of 2017, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.
- The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced its preliminary determination in the countervailing duty investigation of softwood lumber from Canada. The DOC determined that exporters of softwood lumber from Canada received countervailable subsidies of 3.02% to 24.12%, and will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits based on these preliminary rates. The DOC also said that certain companies will be subject to the retroactive collection of cash deposits. The merchandise subject to the DOC investigation included softwood lumber, siding, flooring and certain other coniferous wood. The Government of Canada announced that it is re-convening the Federal-Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber.
- Brampton-based Loblaw Companies Limited announced it plans to invest approximately $1.3 billion in 2017, creating an estimated 10,000 retail, trade and construction jobs. The company said it expects to open 30 new stores and renovate more than 500 existing stores. Loblaw also announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement with Brookfield Business Partners L.P. of Toronto whereby Brookfield will acquire 100% of Loblaw's gas station operations for approximately $540 million. The companies said the completion of the transaction remains subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to occur in the third quarter of 2017.
- Red Deer-based Parkland Fuel Corporation announced it had entered into an agreement with Chevron Canada Limited of Vancouver to acquire all the shares of Chevron Canada R&M ULC for approximately $1.46 billion. Parkland said the acquisition consists of 129 Chevron-branded retail service stations, 37 commercial cardlock and three marine fueling locations, a refinery in Burnaby, terminals located in Burnaby, Hatch Point, and Point Hardy, British Columbia, and a wholesale business which includes aviation fuel sales to the Vancouver International Airport. The company said the acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, including approval from the Competition Bureau of Canada, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017.
- Kansas-based Payless ShoeSource Inc. announced it had filed a voluntary petition for reorganization pursuant to Chapter 11 of the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Code, and for recognition of the U.S. Chapter 11 proceedings under Part IV of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Payless said that the reorganization would entail the immediate closure of nearly 400 underperforming locations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Payless said it will work to manage the remaining real estate lease portfolio either by modifying terms, or evaluating closures of additional locations. Payless has approximately 4,400 stores in more than 30 countries, including Canada.
- California-based bebe stores, inc. announced it had entered into a Consulting Agreement to, among other things, sell (i) all merchandise and inventory owned by the company and certain of its subsidiaries located in its existing retail stores and (ii) certain furnishings, trade fixtures, equipment and improvements to real property with respect to the stores. The company said it anticipates that it will close all of the stores by the end of May 2017. The company has eight locations in Canada.
- Vancouver-based Kit and Ace announced it was closing its showrooms in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. The company said that its Canadian showrooms will remain open.
Finance and insurance
- Winnipeg-based Great-West Lifeco Inc. announced it would be reducing its Canadian workforce by approximately 1,500 positions over the next two years. The company said the reductions will come from reducing the temporary workforce, a voluntary retirement program and eliminating positions through a severance program.
- The Bank of Canada announced that it was maintaining the target for the overnight rate at 0.5%. The last change in the target for the overnight rate was a 25 basis-point reduction announced in July 2015.
- On April 7th, Ministers representing the federal, provincial, and territorial governments announced they had concluded negotiations on a new Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) that will take effect July 1st, 2017. The Agreement includes rules that open trade in goods and services, processes that reduce differences in regulations and standards, and provisions that increase government procurement opportunities for Canadian businesses. The Agreement also establishes new processes to liberalize domestic trade in areas such as alcoholic beverages and financial services.
- On April 13th the Government of Canada announced it had introduced legislation to legalize, regulate and restrict access to cannabis. The Government said the proposed Cannabis Act would create a legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada. The Government said that, following Royal Assent, it intends to bring the proposed Act into force no later than July 2018.
- The Government of Ontario introduced the Fair Housing Plan, a set of 16 measures designed to make housing more affordable for homebuyers and renters. The Fair Housing Plan includes: a 15% Non-Resident Speculation Tax on non-Canadian citizens, non-permanent residents and non-Canadian corporations buying residential properties containing one to six units in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area; an expansion of rent control to all private rental units; the decision to empower Toronto and potentially other municipalities to introduce a tax on vacant homes; and the decision to work with municipalities and other partners to identify provincially-owned surplus lands that could be used for affordable and rental housing development.
- The Government of Ontario tabled Budget 2017 on April 27th, which included an $11.5 billion increase in health care investments over the next three years, and an additional investment of $6.4 billion over three years to support learning and education. The budget also introduced OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare, a drug benefit program that fully covers the cost of prescription medications for persons aged 24 and under. The Government forecasts a balanced budget in 2017-18 and economic growth of 2.3% in 2017.
- The Government of Nova Scotia tabled Budget 2017 on April 27th, which included investments in infrastructure, health care, and education. The budget also confirmed the previously-announced increase to the small business tax threshold from $350,000 to $500,000, and raised the Basic Personal Amount for taxable incomes under $75,000. The Government forecasts a net surplus of $25.9 million in 2017-18 and economic growth of 1.1% in 2017.
- The Government of Yukon tabled Budget 2017 on April 27th which included investments in infrastructure, education, and innovation. The budget reduced the corporate tax rate for small corporations from 3% to 2%, and the general corporate tax rate from 15% to 12%. The Government forecasts a $6.5 million surplus in 2017-18 and economic growth of 0.1% in 2017.
- The Government of Manitoba tabled Budget 2017 on April 11th which included a 2.1% increase to core government spending and an allocation of over $1.7 billion in 2017-18 for investments in strategic infrastructure, including roads and bridges, flood protection, hospital, schools, and universities and colleges. The budget also included investments to support child-care services and primary health-care services. The Government forecasts an $840 million deficit in 2017-18 and economic growth of 2.0% in 2017.
- The Government of Prince Edward Island tabled Budget 2017 on April 7th which included: a $35 million increase in health spending; a $5.4 million increase in educational spending; and an additional $6.6 million for supporting families and individuals in need. The budget also included over $43 million for infrastructure spending, and proposed to raise the Basic Personal Amount by 2% for the 2017 taxation year. The Government forecasts a $600,000 surplus in 2017-18 and economic growth of 1.3% in 2017.
- The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador tabled Budget 2017 on April 6th which included the elimination of 75% of the temporary gas tax introduced in Budget 2016. Budget 2017 also included investments in education, health, buildings, transportation and municipal infrastructure through a $3 billion multi-year infrastructure plan. The Government forecasts a $778 million deficit in 2017-18 and a 3.8% decrease in real GDP in 2017.
- On April 1st, the Governments of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island raised their minimum wages. In New Brunswick, the minimum wage rose from $10.65 to $11.00 per hour; in Newfoundland and Labrador, the minimum wage rose from $10.50 to $10.75 per hour; in Nova Scotia, the minimum wage increased from $10.70 to $10.85 per hour; and in Prince Edward Island the minimum wage rose from $11.00 to $11.25 per hour.
- Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. announced it had reached an agreement with WS Atkins plc of the United Kingdom, a design, engineering and project management consultancy firm, by which SNC-Lavalin will acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Atkins for an aggregate cash consideration of $3.6 billion. The company said the acquisition is expected to close no later than October 27, 2017, subject to regulatory consents and court approvals.
- Montreal-based Transcontinental Inc. announced the sale of its publication portfolio in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick to SaltWire Network Inc. of Nova Scotia, effective immediately. Transcontinental said the sale includes 28 brands and web-related properties, four printing plants operated within its Media Sector, commercial printing activities in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as distribution activities in Atlantic Canada.
United States and other international news
- On April 18th, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that a general election will be held on June 8, 2017.
- The European Central Bank (ECB) left the interest rate on the main refinancing operations of the Eurosystem unchanged at 0.00%, and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility unchanged at 0.25% and -0.40%, respectively. The ECB also confirmed that net asset purchases will continue at a monthly pace of €60 billion until the end of December 2017.
- 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 it would continue to purchase Japanese government bonds (JGB) so that 10-year JGB yields will remain at around zero percent.
- The Reserve Bank of Australia maintained the cash rate at 1.50%. The last change in the cash rate was a 25 basis point reduction in August 2016.
- Sweden's Riksbank left its main interest rate, the repo rate, unchanged at -0.5%. The last change in the repo rate was a 15 basis point cut in February 2016. The Riksbank also said it will extend the purchase of government bonds by SEK 15.0 billion to a total of SEK 290 billion by the end of 2017.
- Missouri-based Panera Bread Company and JAB Holding Company of Luxembourg announced they had entered into a definitive merger agreement under which JAB will acquire Panera in a transaction valued at approximately USD $7.5 billion. The companies said the transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2017, subject to Panera shareholder and regulatory approvals.
- Japan-based Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd. announced that its consolidated subsidiary 7-Eleven, Inc. of Texas will acquire stores and other assets constituting most of the convenience store business and gasoline retail business of Texas-based Sunoco LP, at an acquisition price of USD $3.3 billion. Sunoco said that assets being sold to 7-Eleven include approximately 1,110 convenience stores, and that the transaction is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory clearances and customary closing conditions.
Financial market news
- Crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) closed at USD $49.33 per barrel on April 28th, down from USD $50.60 at the end of March. The Canadian dollar closed at 73.26 cents U.S. on April 28th, down from 75.19 cents U.S. on March 31st. The S&P/TSX closed at 15,586.13 on April 28th, up from 15,547.75 at the end of March.