December 2019 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.


  • The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) announced on December 19th that it had issued a Notice of Non-Compliance and an Order to Suspend production-related operations on the Terra Nova Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, operated by Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. The C-NLOPB said the suspension will continue until the operator has addressed this matter to the satisfaction of the C-NLOPB's Chief Safety Officer.
  • Calgary-based Trans Mountain Corporation announced it had commenced pipeline construction in Greater Edmonton (Spread 1), which includes approximately 50 kilometres of pipeline running from Trans Mountain's Edmonton Terminal in Sherwood Park to Acheson, Alberta. Trans Mountain said that SA Energy Group, the general pipeline construction contractor for Spread 1, has begun pipe transport, stringing and other preparation work.
  • Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. announced that its 2020 capital program is expected to be between $5.4 and $6.0 billion with flat investment in oil related projects year over year. The company said the capital program is approximately 50% allocated to planned asset sustainment and maintenance activities.
  • Calgary-based Husky Energy Inc. announced that its capital program for 2020 will be $3.2 billion to $3.4 billion, a $100 million reduction from its May 2019 Investor Day plan. Husky said its capital spending in 2020 will be directed towards advancing the Lloyd thermal project portfolio, completing the Liuhua 29-1, and ongoing construction of the West White Rose Project in the Atlantic region.
  • Calgary-based Cenovus Energy Inc. announced it plans to invest between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion in 2020, about 70% of which is sustaining capital primarily to maintain base production at its Foster Creek and Christina Lake oil sands operations. Cenovus said the increase in total planned capital spending, compared with its 2019 forecast, is largely due to the deferral of sustaining capital in 2019 following the introduction of mandatory production curtailment in Alberta.
  • Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced that the new Line 3 replacement pipeline, running 1,070 kilometres from Hardisty, Alberta to Gretna, Manitoba, is being put into service for the first time in December. The company said the pipeline will run at approximately half of its rated capacity, some 400,000 barrels per day, until the Minnesota portion receives final approval, is constructed and brought onstream.
  • Toronto-based Continental Gold Inc. and Zijin Mining Group Co., Ltd. of China announced they had entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Zijin had agreed to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Continental for a total equity value of approximately $1.4 billion. Continental said the transaction is subject to shareholder approval, along with the receipt of certain regulatory, court and stock exchange approvals and other customary closing conditions.
  • Vancouver-based Equinox Gold Corp. and Leagold Mining Corporation, also of Vancouver, announced they had entered into a definitive agreement to combine in an at-market merger. The companies said the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary conditions.

Other news

  • The Bank of Canada maintained the target for the overnight rate at 1.75%. The last change in the target for the overnight rate was a 25 basis-point increase announced in October 2018.
  • The Government of Canada released its 2019 Economic and Fiscal Update on December 16th, which included a proposal tabled earlier in December to amend the Income Tax Act to increase the Basic Personal Amount (BPA) to $15,000 by 2023. The Government said it would phase out the benefits of the increased BPA for wealthy individuals. In addition, the Government proposed to increase the Spouse or Common-Law Partner Amount and the Eligible Dependant Credit to $15,000 by 2023. The Government forecasts a deficit of $26.6 billion in 2019-2020 and economic growth of 1.7% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020.
  • On December 20th, the Government of Nova Scotia announced that the Boat Harbour Act will be enforced and that Northern Pulp in Pictou County will be forced to stop pumping effluent into Boat Harbour on January 31, 2020. The Government also announced a $50 million transition fund to support displaced workers across the province, small contractors and all those whose livelihoods will be affected by the decision.
  • Toronto-based Cineplex Inc. announced it had entered into a definitive agreement with Cineworld Group, plc of the United Kingdom, pursuant to which Cineworld Group will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Cineplex for a total transaction value of approximately $2.8 billion including the assumption of net debt. Cineplex said the transaction is expected to close during the first half of 2020, subject to shareholder approval and customary closing conditions including regulatory approvals.
  • Toronto-based Brookfield Infrastructure and Cincinnati Bell of Ohio announced an agreement through which Brookfield Infrastructure and its institutional partners will acquire Cincinnati Bell in a transaction valued at approximately USD $2.6 billion including debt. Brookfield said the transaction is expected to close by the end of 2020, subject to certain customary closing conditions, including approval by Cincinnati Bell's shareholders and certain regulatory approvals.
  • Vancouver-based Telus Corporation announced it had agreed to acquire privately-owned Competence Call Center (CCC) of Germany through Telus International for approximately $1.3 billion. Telus said the acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.
  • Saskatoon-based Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) announced on December 5th that Unifor 594 had been locked out of the Co-op Refinery Complex located in Regina. On December 31st, FCL announced that it had received an injunction against Unifor, effective December 24th
  • Bombardier Inc. announced it had signed a long-term lease agreement with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) to build its new Global Manufacturing Centre located at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Bombardier said that first production activities are set to begin in 2023 and that the new site will optimize final assembly operations for all Global business jets.

United States and other international news

  • The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) maintained the target range for the federal funds interest rate at 1.50% to 1.75%. The last change in the target range was a 25 basis point decrease announced in October 2019.
  • 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 -0.50%, respectively. The ECB also maintained its asset purchase program at a monthly pace of €20 billion.
  • The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.75% and the stock of UK government bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £435 billion. The last change in the Bank Rate was a 25 basis-point increase in August 2018.
  • 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 0.75%. The last change in the cash rate was a 25 basis point reduction in October 2019.
  • The Executive Board of Norway's Norges Bank kept the policy rate unchanged at 1.50%. The last change in the policy rate was a 25 basis point increase in September 2019.
  • Sweden's Riksbank raised its main interest rate, the repo rate, by 25 basis points to 0.00%. The last change in the repo rate was a 25 basis point increase in December 2018.
  • The United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced on December 13th that the United States and China had reached an agreement on a Phase One trade deal that requires structural reforms and other changes to China's economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange. The USTR said the United States will be maintaining 25% tariffs on approximately USD $250 billion of Chinese imports, along with 7.5% tariffs on approximately USD $120 billion of Chinese imports.
  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced that the 7th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting had decided for an additional adjustment of 500,000 barrels per day to the adjustment levels as agreed at the 175th Meeting of the OPEC Conference and the 5th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting. OPEC said the additional adjustment would be effective as of January 1, 2020.
  • Michigan-based General Motors and LG Chem of South Korea announced plans to invest up to a total of USD $2.3 billion through a new, equally owned joint venture company that will establish a battery cell assembly plant in the Lordstown area of Northeast Ohio. The companies said the groundbreaking is expected to take place in mid-2020.
  • Illinois-based Boeing Co. announced it had decided to prioritize the delivery of stored 737 MAX aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737 program beginning in January, 2020. Boeing said there are approximately 400 airplanes in storage.
  • Pennsylvania-based United States Steel Corporation announced it intends to indefinitely idle a significant portion of its Great Lakes Works operation near Detroit, Michigan. The company said it expects to begin idling the iron and steelmaking facilities on or around April 1, 2020, and the Hot Strip Mill rolling facility before the end of 2020.

Financial market news

  • West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at USD $61.68 per barrel on December 30th, up from a closing value of USD $55.17 at the end of November. Western Canadian Select crude oil traded in the USD $35 to $40 per barrel range during December. The Canadian dollar closed at 76.99 cents U.S. on December 31st, up from 75.25 cents U.S. at the end of November. The S&P/TSX composite index closed at 17,063.43 on December 31st, up from a closing value of 17,040.20 at the end of November.
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