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.
- On January 17th, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C‑NLOPB) announced it had suspended petroleum-related operations conducted by the SeaRose Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel operating in the White Rose Field, pursuant to Husky Oil Operations Limited's Operations Authorization. The C-NLOPB said the decision related to an incident on March 29, 2017 when an iceberg entered the Ice Exclusion Area of the SeaRose FPSO. On January 26th, the C-NLOPB announced it had withdrawn the suspension.
- On January 19th, Vancouver-based Teck Resources Limited announced that a significant pressure event had interrupted operations in the coal dryer at Teck's Elkview mine. The company said that preliminary damage assessment has determined that repairs to the dryer may take in the range of four to six weeks. Teck also said that it expects lost production in the range of 200,000 tonnes of clean coal.
- On January 11th, the United Steelworkers Local 9700 announced that more than 1,000 employees at the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour, Quebec, had been locked out.
- Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. announced that the Fort Hills project is continuing its steady ramp up of production following the startup of secondary extraction on January 27, 2018. The company said Fort Hills remains on track to reach 90% capacity by the end of 2018.
- Hydro-Québec announced that Massachusetts utilities had selected a Hydro- Québec proposal to supply 9.45 TWh of energy to the state's electric distribution companies. Hydro-Québec said it will invest over $680 million for the Québec portion of the Northern Pass Transmission Project, consisting of construction of a new transmission line and equipment additions in the Des Cantons substation. Hydro-Québec said the next steps are to negotiate long-term contracts and obtain regulatory approval of agreements to ensure the delivery of energy over the next 20 years.
- The Government of British Columbia announced it is proposing a second phase of regulations to improve preparedness, response and recovery from potential spills of liquid petroleum products. The Government said that for the second phase it will be looking for feedback in five areas: response times; geographic response plans; compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land, resources or public amenities; maximizing application of regulations to marine spills; and restrictions on the increase of diluted bitumen transportation until the behaviour of spilled bitumen can be better understood and there is certainty regarding the ability to adequately mitigate spills. The Government said the process to receive feedback on the proposed regulations will feature engagement with First Nations, and that it will meet with industry, local governments and environmental groups over the coming weeks and months.
- Bombardier Commercial Aircraft and EgyptAir Holding Company announced on December 29th that the parties had executed a firm agreement for the sale and purchase of 12 CS300 aircraft along with purchase rights for an additional 12 CS300 aircraft. Bombardier said EgyptAir's Letter of Intent was announced previously on November 14, 2017 and that, based on the list price of the CS300 airliner, the firm-order contract would be valued at approximately USD $1.1 billion. Bombardier also said that should EgyptAir exercise the 12 purchase rights, the contract value would increase to nearly USD $2.2 billion.
- Vancouver-based Aurora Cannabis Inc. and CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. of Saskatoon announced they had entered into a support agreement whereby the Board of Directors and the Special Committee of the CanniMed Board have agreed to support a new offer made by Aurora for the acquisition of all the issued and outstanding shares of CanniMed not owned by Aurora, for a total consideration of approximately $1.1 billion. The companies said the New Offer and the transaction are subject to customary closing conditions, including Canadian Competition Act approval.
- Leamington, Ontario-based Aphria Inc. and Nuuvera Inc. of Toronto announced they had entered into a definitive arrangement agreement pursuant to which Aphria will acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding common shares of Nuuvera, for a transaction value of approximately $826 million. The companies said the transaction is expected to close in April 2018, subject to Nuuvera shareholder and regulatory approvals.
- Toronto-based Campbell Company of Canada announced plans to close its manufacturing facility in Toronto and move its Canadian headquarters and commercial operations to a new location in the Greater Toronto Area. The company said it plans to operate the Toronto manufacturing facility for up to 18 months and will close it in phases, transitioning its production to three U.S. thermal plants in North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas.
- Germany-based Dr. Oetker announced it will close its leased pizza manufacturing plant in Grand Falls, New Brunswick at the end of May. The company said an estimated 70% of the manufacturing will transition to its owned Hub production facility in London, Ontario, while 30% of production will move to its Lodi, New Jersey plant.
Finance and insurance
- The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada's (OSFI) final version of Guideline B-20 – Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures – took effect January 1, 2018. The revised Guideline applies to all federally regulated financial institutions and sets the new minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages as the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the contractual mortgage rate +2%.
- RBC Royal Bank, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank, BMO Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank, Desjardins Group, HSBC Bank Canada, and B2B Bank announced they had increased their prime lending rate by 25 basis points from 3.20% to 3.45%, effective January 18, 2018.
- Toronto-based Brookfield Business Partners L.P. announced that it and institutional partners had entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of Westinghouse Electric Company LLC of Pennsylvania for approximately USD $4.6 billion. Brookfield said the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018, subject to Bankruptcy Court approval and customary closing conditions including regulatory approvals.
- The Bank of Canada raised the target for the overnight rate by 25 basis points to 1.25% on January 17th. The last change in the target for the overnight rate was a 25 basis-point increase announced in September 2017.
- Ontario's general minimum wage rose from $11.60 per hour to $14.00 per hour on January 1, 2018. The Government of Ontario said the general minimum wage will increase again to $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2019. The Government also announced that OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare came into effect on January 1, 2018.
- The Government of Nova Scotia announced that tax changes, including an increase in the tax-free basic personal amount, came into effect on January 1, 2018.
- The Government of Quebec announced it will raise the province's minimum wage from $11.25 per hour to $12.00 per hour, effective May 1st, 2018.
- The Government of the Northwest Territories announced it will raise the minimum wage from $12.50 per hour to $13.46 per hour, effective April 1st, 2018.
- The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada. The DOC said that it has preliminarily determined that exporters from Canada received countervailable subsidies ranging from 4.42% to 9.93%, and that it would instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada based on these preliminary rates.
- The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that Canada has requested WTO consultations with the United States concerning certain laws, regulations and other measures maintained by the United States with respect to U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duty proceedings.
- On January 19th, the Government of Canada announced it had filed requests for panel reviews under NAFTA Chapter 19, following the U.S. Department of Commerce's final subsidy and dumping determinations of duty rates of nearly 300% on future imports of Bombardier's C Series aircraft. The Government also said it filed a request for a panel review under NAFTA Chapter 19, following the U.S. International Trade Commission's final determination of material injury on Canadian softwood lumber products.
- On January 23rd, the Government of Canada announced that it and the 10 other remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership concluded discussions on a new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
- On January 26th, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) announced it had determined that a U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of 100- to 150-seat large civil aircraft from Canada that the U.S. Department of Commerce has determined are subsidized and sold at less than fair value. The USITC said that as a result, no antidumping or countervailing duty orders will be issued.
- Concord, Ontario-based Toys "R" Us Canada said that about 180 stores in the United States will close in the coming months and that all 83 stores in Canada are open for business as usual.
- UK-based Carillion Plc announced that it and other companies in the Carillion group had entered into an insolvency process known as compulsory liquidation, and that an order had been granted to appoint the Official Receiver as the liquidator of Carillion. On January 25th, Concord, Ontario-based Carillion Construction Inc., Carillion Canada Inc., Carillion Canada Holdings Inc., and Carillion Canada Finance Corp. announced they had been granted an order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. The companies said the Initial Order provides for a stay of proceedings for an initial one month period, subject to extension thereafter as the Court deems appropriate.
- Montreal-based Yellow Pages Limited announced it will take measures to reduce its workforce by approximately 500 positions, representing close to 18% of its employees on a consolidated basis, with reductions occurring across Canada and in all functions of the business.
- Calgary-based Shaw Communications Inc. announced it was implementing a Voluntary Departure Program from January 31st to February 14th under which approximately 6,500 Shaw and Freedom Mobile employees have been offered a voluntary departure package.
- Saint-John, New Brunswick-based J.D. Irving, Limited announced it is forecasting over 10,400 hires across the company's operations in Canada and the U.S. The company said 84% of the jobs are in Atlantic Canada and that the three-year forecast is a result of anticipated retirements, business growth, and normal workforce turnover.
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 1.25% to 1.50%. The last change in the target range was a 25 basis point increase announced in December 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 €30 billion until the end of September 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.
- Virginia-based Dominion Energy, Inc. and SCANA Corporation of South Carolina announced an agreement for the companies to combine in a stock-for-stock merger. The companies said the transaction, including assumption of debt, is valued at approximately USD $14.6 billion and is expected to close in 2018 upon receipt of regulatory and shareholder approvals.
- France-based Airbus SE announced that Dubai-based Emirates Airline has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to acquire up to 36 A380 aircraft, valued at USD $16 billion at latest list prices. Airbus said deliveries are to start in 2020.
- France-based Sanofi S.A. and Bioverativ Inc. of Massachusetts announced they had entered into a definitive agreement under which Sanofi will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Bioverativ for an equity value of approximately USD $11.6 billion. The companies said the transaction is expected to close within three months, subject to the satisfaction or waiver of customary closing conditions.
- New York-based Thomson Reuters Corporation announced it will sell a 55% majority stake in its Financial and Risk (F&R) business to private equity funds managed by The Blackstone Group, also of New York. The company said the transaction values the F&R business at approximately USD $20 billion. Thomson Reuters said it expects the transaction to close in the second half of 2018, subject to specified regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.
- New York-based American International Group, Inc. (AIG) announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding common shares of Validus Holdings, Ltd. of Bermuda for an aggregate transaction value of USD $5.56 billion. AIG said the transaction is expected to close in mid-2018, subject to approval by Validus shareholders and other customary closing conditions.
- Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced it plans to increase the starting wage rate for all hourly associates in the United States to USD $11.00, expand maternity and parental leave benefits and provide a one-time cash bonus for eligible associates of up to $1,000. The company said the increase in wages will take effect in February. Wal-Mart also announced that Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., would close 63 clubs across the United States.
- Ohio-based Macy's Inc. announced a number of restructuring activities, including the closure of 11 stores in early 2018, 4 of which were previously disclosed. Macy's also said it intends to close approximately 19 additional stores as leases or operating covenants expire or sale transactions are completed.
Financial market news
- Crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) closed at USD $64.73 on January 31st, up from USD $60.42 at the end of December. The Canadian dollar closed at 81.35 cents U.S. on January 31st, up from 79.71 cents U.S. on December 29th. The S&P/TSX closed at 15,951.67 on January 31st, down from a closing value of 16,209.13 at the end of December.