May 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.

Northern Alberta wildfires

  • Wildfires in northeastern Alberta resulted in the mandatory evacuation of approximately 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray and surrounding areas. The government of Alberta declared a provincial state of emergency on May 4th. On May 31st, the government of Alberta confirmed that a voluntary phased re-entry for the safe return of Fort McMurray residents would begin on June 1st.
  • Calgary-based Shell Canada Limited announced on May 4th that it had shut down production at its Shell Albian Sands mining operations north of Fort McMurray. On May 9th, the company said it was able to restart production at Albian Sands at a reduced rate.
  • Calgary-based Nexen Energy ULC announced on May 4th that it had initiated a planned shutdown of its Long Lake facility southeast of Fort McMurray. On May 26th the company said it had commenced assessment work and would be working with applicable regulators towards the safe re-start of its oil sands facilities.
  • Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced on May 5th that the Enbridge Cheecham facility had been shut down and that all Enbridge pipelines in and out of Cheecham Terminal had been isolated and shut down. On May 31st, the company said that all systems had been returned to service and that production levels were continuing to increase back to normal rates.
  • Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. announced on May 5th that it had decided to shut down operations at its Base Plant, MacKay River, and Firebag facilities north of Fort McMurray. On May 29th, the company announced that initial production at its Firebag facility had commenced early in the previous week, while start-up activities were underway at Base Plant and the Mackay River in situ facility.
  • Texas-based ConocoPhillips announced on May 5th that it had shut down its Surmont operations south of Fort McMurray. On May 24th, the company said it had begun a staged remobilization and expected to have 350 workers back at the site by the end of that week.
  • Calgary-based Imperial Oil Limited announced on May 5th that it had reduced production at its Kearl site north of Fort McMurray. On May 19th, the company confirmed that it had restarted limited operations at the site.
  • Calgary-based Athabasca Oil Corporation announced on May 5th that it had decided to shut down the Hangingstone Project south of Fort McMurray. On May 24th, the company announced that it had resumed operations at the site.
  • Fort McMurray-based Syncrude Canada Ltd. announced on May 8th that it had suspended operations at its Aurora and Mildred Lake sites north of Fort McMurray. On May 16th the company said it was continuing to deploy employees on the ground at its Aurora and Mildred Lake oil sands sites to advance the return of operations.


  • Calgary-based Husky Energy Inc. announced it had reached an agreement for the sale of select assets in southwest Saskatchewan to Whitecap Resources Inc. of Calgary for $595 million. Husky also announced it had reached an agreement for the sale of royalty interests representing approximately 1,700 barrels of oil equivalent per day to Calgary-based Freehold Royalties Ltd. The company said that the proceeds from this sale included $163 million in cash and other considerations.
  • Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. announced it had entered into a definitive arrangement agreement with Kaminak Gold Corporation to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Kaminak for about $520 million. The transaction is expected to close no later than August 15, 2016, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.
  • Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold Corporation announced it had reached an agreement to sell its respective interest in the White Mountain and Tanjianshan mines and the Eastern Dragon development project to an affiliate of the Yinatai Resources Co. Ltd. of China, for USD $600 million. The company said the transaction is expected to close in the third to fourth quarter of 2016 subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.
  • Calgary-based TransCanada Corporation announced it had received the last two of 10 pipeline and facilities permits required from the BC Oil and Gas Commission for the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project. The company said a Final Investment Decision by LNG Canada is expected in late 2016.


  • New York-based Aéropostale, Inc. announced it had filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code. The company announced an initial store closure list of 113 U.S. locations, as well as all 41 stores in Canada.
  • Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Company announced it plans to open up to 20 new stores in the Netherlands over the next 24 months. The company said the first stores are expected to launch in the summer of 2017 and operate under the Hudson's Bay and Saks OFF 5TH banners.


  • Montreal-based BCE Inc. announced it would acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS) of Winnipeg in a transaction valued at approximately $3.9 billion. The company said it plans to invest $1 billion in capital over five years after the transaction closes to expand its broadband networks and services throughout Manitoba. BCE said it expects the deal to close at the end of 2016 or early 2017, subject to court, shareholder, and regulatory approvals.
  • Vancouver-based Telus Corporation announced it had reached an agreement in principle with BCE that would see approximately one-third of MTS postpaid wireless customers become Telus customers once the announced purchase of MTS concludes. The company said BCE will also assign one-third of MTS dealer locations in Manitoba to Telus.
  • Vancouver-based Telus Corporation announced it had reached an agreement with Baring Private Equity Asia of Hong Kong for Baring to acquire a 35% stake in Telus International for $1.2 billion. Telus said its shareholders would retain a 65% interest in Telus International.

Other news

  • The Bank of Canada announced on May 25th 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.
  • The government of Manitoba tabled its 2016 budget on May 31st which included increased spending on health care and education, and $1.8 billion for strategic infrastructure spending. The government projects a deficit of $911 million in 2016-17.
  • The National Energy Board recommended the Governor in Council approve Kinder Morgan Canada Inc.'s planned Trans Mountain Expansion Project, subject to 157 conditions. The company anticipates the Canadian federal government will make a final decision on the project in December 2016, and expects the in-service date to be December 2019. The project proposes to expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, British Columbia, increasing the existing capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000.

United States and other international news

  • The Reserve Bank of Australia lowered the cash rate by 25 basis points to 1.75%. The last change in the cash rate was a 25 basis points reduction in May 2015.
  • The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5% and to maintain the stock of purchased assets financed by the issuance of central bank reserves at £375 billion. The last change in the Bank Rate was a 50 basis point reduction announced in March 2009.
  • Microsoft Corp. announced it plans to streamline the company's smartphone hardware business, resulting in a reduction of up to 1,850 jobs. Microsoft said that up to 1,350 of these job reductions will be at Microsoft Mobile Oy in Finland, with up to 500 additional job reductions to occur globally. The company said it expects the actions to be substantially completed by the end of 2016 and fully completed by July 2017.
  • New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. announced tentative contract agreements had been reached with the unions representing East Wireline associates. The company said the associates would be returning to work June 1. On April 13th, 36,000 wireline associates in the eastern United States called a strike.

Financial market news

  • Crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) closed at USD $49.10 per barrel on May 31st, up from USD $45.92 at the end of April, and up from the recent low of USD $26.21 on February 11th.
  • The Canadian dollar closed at 76.28 cents U.S. on May 31st, down from 79.69 cents U.S. at the end of April. At the end of May, the Canadian dollar was up 7.59 cents U.S. from the recent low on January 19th.
  • The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed at 14,065.78 on May 31st, up from 13,951.45 on April 29th. The index has increased 18.8% since the recent low on January 20th.
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