March 2016 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.


  • Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Limited announced it has targeted its 2016 capital program to range from $3.5 billion to $3.9 billion, down from the previously announced range of $4.5 billion to $5.0 billion. The company said approximately $2 billion will be allocated to advancing the completion of Phases 2B and 3 of the Horizon expansion project north of Fort McMurray.
  • Calgary-based Baytex Energy Corp. announced it was reducing its 2016 exploration and development capital budget to between $225 million and $265 million, down 33% from initial expectations.
  • Calgary-based Crescent Point Energy Corp. announced it has approved a revised 2016 capital expenditures budget of $950 million, at the lower end of the company's previously announced guidance range of $950 million to $1.3 billion.
  • Calgary-based Calfrac Well Services Ltd. announced it has further reduced its North American workforce by about 500. The company said it has reduced its North American workforce by approximately 2,300 since January 2015.
  • Calgary-based Penn West Petroleum Ltd. announced the sale of its properties in the Slave Point area of Northern Alberta for $148 million. The company also said it had closed or entered into either definitive agreements or letters of intent to sell some of its non-core assets for an additional $80 million. The Slave Point transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016, subject to regulatory approvals.
  • Calgary-based TransCanada Corporation announced it will acquire Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. of Texas for approximately USD $13 billion. Columbia operates an approximate 24,000 km network of interstate natural gas pipelines throughout the United States. TransCanada said the deal is expected to close in the second half of 2016, subject to Columbia shareholder approval and regulatory and government approvals.
  • Calgary-based Bankers Petroleum Ltd., an oil and gas exploration and production company focused on developing oil and gas reserves in Albania and Eastern Europe, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Geo-Jade Petroleum Corporation of China for approximately $575 million. Bankers Petroleum said the deal is expected to close by the end of June, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.
  • Calgary-based Imperial Oil announced the filing of regulatory applications with the Alberta Energy Regulator to seek approval for a new in-situ oil sands project on its Cold Lake lease area. The company said that construction could begin in 2019 subject to regulatory approvals and favourable business and market conditions.


  • Calgary-based Maxim Power Corp. announced it has temporarily suspended electricity generation at its coal-fired H.R. Milner Generating Facility in Grande Cache, Alberta.


  • Montreal-based Saputo Inc. announced it will close its facilities in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Princeville, Quebec, and Ottawa, Ontario. The company said that the closures are scheduled, respectively, for June 2016, August 2016 and December 2017, with current production to be integrated into other Saputo facilities.


  • San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation announced an agreement to acquire Mississauga-based Rexall Health from Katz Group for $3 billion. As part of the transaction, McKesson said it intends to acquire approximately 470 retail pharmacies. According to McKesson, the acquisition is expected to close in late 2016.
  • Calgary-based Imperial Oil announced it had reached agreements with five fuel distributors in Canada to sell its remaining 497 company-owned Esso retail stations. The company said it expects the sales, valued at about $2.8 billion, to close by year-end 2016, subject to regulatory approvals.
  • Vaughan-based Cara Operations Limited, which owns Swiss Chalet, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Groupe St-Hubert Inc. of Laval, Quebec for $537 million. The company said the transaction is targeted to close in the summer of 2016, pending regulatory approvals.

Other news

  • The Bank of Canada maintained 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.
  • The Government of Canada tabled Budget 2016 on March 22nd, which included new investments in infrastructure and clean technologies, new measures to support families with children, students and post-secondary institutions, improvements to the Employment Insurance system, investments in First Nations, Inuit Peoples and the Métis Nation, and a renewed commitment to enhance the Canada Pension Plan. The economy is forecast to grow by 1.4% in 2016. For 2016-17, the federal deficit is forecast to be $29.4 billion and the federal debt $648.7 billion, or 32.5% of GDP.
  • The Quebec government tabled its 2016 budget on March 17th, which included investments in education, infrastructure, and innovation as well as measures to reduce the tax burden of individuals. The government said it expects the Quebec economy to grow by 1.5% in 2016, and the province's debt, as of March 31st 2016, to be 55% of GDP.
  • Edmonton-based Stantec Inc. announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire MWH Global Inc. of Colorado, an engineering, consulting and construction management firm, for USD $793 million. Stantec said it expects the deal to close in the second quarter of 2016 subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

United States and other international news

  • The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced it was maintaining the target range for the federal funds interest rate at 0.25% to 0.50%. The last change in the target range for the federal funds interest rate was a 25 basis point increase announced in December 2015.
  • The European Central Bank (ECB) announced it lowered the interest rates on its main refinancing operations of the Eurosystem by 5 basis points to 0.00%, on its marginal lending facility by 5 basis points to 0.25%, and on its deposit facility by 10 basis points to −0.40%. The ECB also announced it was increasing the size of its asset purchase programme from €60 billion to €80 billion per month, and expanding the list of assets eligible for purchase under the program.
  • The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5%. The last change in the Bank Rate was a 50 basis point reduction announced in March 2009.
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand reduced the Official Cash Rate, its main policy rate, by 25 basis points to 2.25%.
  • In a draft outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan on national economy and social development, the Chinese government announced it was targeting GDP growth at between 6.5% and 7.0% for 2016. The government said that over the 2016 to 2020 period, average annual economic growth will be targeted above 6.5%.
  • Ohio-based The Sherwin-Williams Company announced it would acquire The Valspar Corporation of Minnesota for USD $11.3 billion. Sherwin-Williams said it expects the deal to close by the end of the first quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory approvals and the approval of Valspar shareholders.

Financial market news

  • Crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) closed at USD $38.34 per barrel on March 31st, up from USD $33.75 at the end of February.
  • The Canadian dollar closed at 77.00 cents U.S. on March 31st, up from 73.90 cents U.S. at the end of February.
  • The S&P/TSX closed at 13,494.36 on March 31st, up from 12,860.35 at the end of February.
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