February 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 Government of Alberta announced on February 19th a $3.7 billion investment to increase rail capacity by an estimated 4,400 rail cars to move up to 120,000 barrels per day of Alberta oil by 2020. The Government said that the first complement of rail cars is expected to start transporting oil in July 2019.
  • The Government of Alberta announced on February 28th that it is increasing oil production in April by 25,000 barrels to a total of about 3.66 million barrels a day, an overall increase of 100,000 barrels per day from the January limit.
  • The National Energy Board (NEB) delivered its Reconsideration report to the Government of Canada, with an overall recommendation that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the public interest and should be approved. The NEB said it will impose 156 conditions on the Project if it is approved, and has made 16 new recommendations to the Government of Canada.
  • Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corporation along with Petrochemical Industries Company K.S.C. of Kuwait announced a positive final investment decision to construct an integrated propane dehydrogenation plant and polypropylene upgrading facility northeast of Edmonton. Pembina said the project has a gross capital cost estimate of $4.5 billion and that the facility is expected to be in service in mid-2023.
  • Calgary-based Encana Corporation announced that its full-year proforma capital budget for 2019 is $2.7 billion to $2.9 billion and that more than 75% of the capital investments will be allocated to its Permian, Anadarko and Montney liquids plays.
  • Saskatoon-based Nutrien Ltd. announced that it has entered into a binding agreement with Ruralco Holdings Limited of Australia to acquire all the shares of Ruralco for a purchase price of AUS $469 million.

Finance and insurance

  • New York-based Morgan Stanley announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Solium Capital Inc. of Calgary for a total equity value of approximately $1.1 billion. The company said the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, subject to court, Solium shareholder and regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions.
  • Montreal-based Laurentian Bank of Canada announced that as part of a strategic initiative it expects to reduce headcount by approximately 10% or 350 employees through attrition, early retirement and targeted job reductions over the next 12 months.


  • Montreal-based Saputo Inc. announced it had reached an agreement with Dairy Crest Group plc of the United Kingdom on the terms of a cash acquisition by which Saputo will acquire the entire issued and to-be-issued ordinary share capital of Dairy Crest for approximately $1.7 billion. Saputo said the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, subject to Dairy Crest shareholder approval and other conditions customary for this type of transaction.


  • Kansas-based Payless ShoeSource announced that the company and its North American subsidiaries had voluntarily filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, and that certain Payless Canadian subsidiaries will also be seeking protection pursuant to the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Payless said it intends to use the proceedings to facilitate a wind-down of its approximately 2,500 store locations in North America and its e-commerce operations, and that store closings are expected to begin at the end of March.
  • Toronto-based HBC announced the closure of its Home Outfitters business in Canada and that it is performing a fleet review of Saks OFF 5TH's 133 stores, with an estimate of closing up to 20 locations in the United States. HBC said Home Outfitters is expected to close in 2019.

Other news

  • The Government of Canada announced it had officially selected Lockheed Martin Canada for the design of 15 new Canadian Surface Combatants that will be built at Irving Shipbuilding's Halifax Shipyard. The Government said the initial contract with Irving Shipbuilding is valued at $185 million and will increase as design work progresses. The Government also said that construction is set to begin in the early 2020s.
  • The Government of the Northwest Territories tabled Budget 2019-20 on February 6th, which proposed $89 million in increased spending, partly offset with $20 million in savings and expiring programs, and $30 million in new federal transfers and carbon tax revenue recycling. The Government forecasts a $7 million cash deficit in 2019-20 and real GDP growth of 2.1% in 2019.
  • The Government of British Columbia tabled Budget 2019 on February 19th, which included the full elimination of Medical Services Plan premiums on January 1, 2020, and the introduction of a new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit. The Government is also investing $20 billion over three years primarily in the health, transportation and education sectors, and is moving forward with more than $800 million in business tax reductions. The Government forecasts a $274 million surplus in 2019-20 and real GDP growth of 2.4% in 2019.
  • Florida-based Ultimate Software Group announced it had entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by an investor group led by Hellman & Friedman in partnership with Blackstone, GIC, and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, among others, for an aggregate value of approximately USD $11 billion. The company said the transaction is expected to close in mid-2019, subject to stockholder approval and other customary closing conditions including regulatory approvals.

United States and other international news

  • 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 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 -0.25%. The last change in the repo rate was a 25 basis point increase in December 2018.
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand left the Official Cash Rate, its main policy rate, unchanged at 1.75%. The last change in the Official Cash Rate was a 25 basis point reduction in November 2016.
  • Atlanta, Georgia-based SunTrust Banks, Inc. and BB&T Corporation of North Carolina announced a definitive agreement to combine in an all-stock merger of equals valued at approximately USD $66 billion. SunTrust and BB&T said the merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
  • Massachusetts-based GE announced a definitive agreement to sell its BioPharma business to Danaher Corporation of Washington, D.C. for a total consideration of USD $21.4 billion. GE said the transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.
  • Illinois-based Boeing Company confirmed that Vietjet had purchased 100 737 MAX airplanes, valued at USD $12.7 billion according to list prices. Boeing also announced that Bamboo Airways, also of Vietnam, had ordered 10 787-9 Dreamliners valued at USD $3 billion according to list prices.
  • U.K.-based Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. confirmed plans to invest a total of USD $4.5 billion in five of its existing Michigan plants, and to work with the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan on building a new assembly plant within city limits.
  • California-based Gap, Inc. announced the closure of about 230 Gap specialty stores over the next two years.
  • Ohio-based L Brands, Inc. announced it was closing an estimated 53 Victoria's Secret stores in North America in 2019.
  • Washington State-based Amazon.com, Inc. announced it had decided not to move forward with plans to build a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, New York. The company said it does not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time, and that it will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville.

Financial market news

  • West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at USD $57.22 per barrel on February 28th, up from $53.79 at the end of January. Western Canadian Select crude oil traded at over USD $40.00 per barrel throughout February. The Canadian dollar closed at 75.94 cents U.S. on February 28th, down from 76.08 cents U.S. at the end of January. The S&P/TSX composite index closed at 15,999.01 on February 28th, up from a closing value of 15,540.60 at the end of January.
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