Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 20/15
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Canada’s dollar is worth less, plunging below 72 cents U.S., at an 11-year low.
Factors causing the drop to 71.68 cents include slumping oil and commodity prices and a higher U.S. dollar due to a slight increase in interest rates there.
That means it costs almost $1.40 Canadian for a U.S. dollar, plus bank and credit-card exchange fees.
Economists expect the weaker dollar to continue, hitting 70 cents before rising slowly through the end of next year.
This is making it more costly for “snowbirds” and vacationers from Canada who pay in U.S. dollars.
So far, however, it hasn’t deterred many from their winter haunts in Florida, California, South Carolina, Arizona and other sunny spots.
Florida attracts about 4.2-million Canadian vacationers annually and tourism officials say there’s only a slight drop this year.
The lower dollar is also leading to higher food costs with fresh vegetables, especially lettuce and tomatoes from the U.S., rising by 10.9 percent.
The Canadian government airlift of the first Syrian refugees continues at an increased rate but might not meet its year-end goal of 10,000 people.
So far, about 1,100 refugees have arrived as the government hopes to resettle 25,000 by the end of February.
Immigration Minister John McCallum said about 800 applications are being handled a day along with interviews and medical and security checks to determine if each refugee is admissible.
About two flights a day are expected, mainly on private charters, while military planes are on standby.
News in brief:
- Two top aides to former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty have been arrested over the so-called “gas-plants’ scandal.” David Livingston, former chief of staff, and Laura Miller, former deputy chief, are charged with breach of trust and mischief. The charges concern the destruction of thousands of emails about the Liberals government’s decision to cancel the under construction energy plants to help win the 2011 election. The move cost taxpayers $1.1 billion, auditors said.
- There are concerns in Toronto about a rash of stabbings and shootings in the past week, the latest called an “unprovoked” attack in the financial district. Rosemarie Junor, 28, died of stab wounds after being attacked in a drug store. Police arrested Rohinie Bisesar, 40, for the murder but wouldn’t say if the women knew each other.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s inflation rate rose last month to 1.4 percent, up from 1 percent in October, Statistics Canada reported.
The Canadian dollar was up slightly on Friday at 71.79 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returned $1.3928 in Canadian funds, before bank and credit card exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Markets are mixed, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index up at 13,016 points and the TSX Venture index down at 499 points.
The average price of gas is lower at 97.79 cents a liter nationally or $3.71 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Dec. 16) 7, 20, 33, 36, 39 and 48; bonus 21. (Dec. 12) 2, 10, 18, 20, 30 and 41; bonus 38. Lotto Max: (Dec. 11) 7, 12, 28, 34, 45, 46 and 48; bonus 49.
- The wife of 1960’s Canadian pop star Bobby Curtola was killed in a three-vehicle crash on an icy highway in Nova Scotia. Karyn Rochford, 73, died in the crash on Highway 103 between Blockhouse and Bridgewater, police said.
- A tentative agreement was reached between the Quebec government and public sector unions representing 400,000 workers. It follows months of negotiations, pressure tactics and rotating strikes. The unions include teachers, health-care professionals, caretakers and white-collar workers.
- A Langley, British Columbia man waited 21 months to cash a $50-million Lotto Max winning ticket, saying he didn’t know how to handle the huge tax-free cash prize. Friedrich Mayrhofer, 67, a retired steel fabricator, said he also wanted to remain anonymous but has since hired advisers to help handle the windfall. In the interim, he lost about $500,000 in interest.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com