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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Drivers being "hosed" by gasoline prices in Canada, anylists say

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 24/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadian drivers are complaining they are being “hosed” or taken advantage of at the gas pump as low oil prices aren’t being reflected in the price.
   Even the central Bank of Canada in its monetary policy report pointed out that oil prices have dropped about 75 percent from their peak in 2014 but gasoline prices have not fallen “as much as the reduction in crude oil prices would suggest, based on historical experience.”
   Gas prices averaged $1.02 a liter ($3.88 Canadian for a U.S. gallon) nationally last month when crude averaged $37 U.S. a barrel.
   In 2009, when oil sold for $39, the average price for gas was 85 cents a liter.
   Gasbuddy analyst Dan McTeague said gas would cost far less if the Canadian dollar was at par with the U.S. currency, instead of at 70 cents U.S. now.
   “The weakness in the loonie (dollar) accounts for over 12 cents a liter in lost purchasing power for motorists,” he said.
   Analysts say it’s also due to higher margins by refiners along with increased taxes.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pepper-sprayed Syrian refugees get apology from Prime Minister

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 17/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on behalf of Canadians to a group of Syrian refugees who were pepper-sprayed in Vancouver.
   Police are considering it a “hate crime” when about a dozen people were sprayed by a man on a bicycle at a Syrian welcome ceremony.
   The man rode away quickly after spraying the crowd outside the Muslim Association of Canada center and is being sought by the police.
   One of those hit in the attack was refugee Youssef Ahmad al-Suleiman who said the reaction of the prime minister and the public in condemning the incident reinforced his appreciation of Canadians and his adopted country.
   Immigration Minister John McCallum called it an “isolated” incident but suggested there’s the need to guard against an anti-refugee sentiment.
   As the government’s focus shifts to integrating the 10,000 Syrians who have arrived so far, there must be an effort to be sure the newcomers aren’t given special access over Canadian citizens to such things as social housing, he said.
   The Syrians being resettled in Canada so far have come from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, with about 25,000 expected to arrive by the end of next month.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Canada will have to endure economic crisis: Bank governor

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 10/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada will have to “ride out” the economic storm that has plunged the dollar to the 70-cent US range, the central bank governor says.
   It will take time to adjust to the shock of low oil prices, said Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz as it causes havoc with the economy.
   There is no simple fix but Canada’s flexible exchange rate can soften the blow for some parts of the economy, he said.
   The bank can also use “unconventional tools” to limit financial and inflationary threats including lowering the trend-setting interest rate into negative territory.
   Canada has lost more than $50 billion in national income since oil prices started their plunge in mid-2014, Poloz said.
   This has led to tens of thousands of layoffs in the oil patch, primarily in Alberta, where housing prices have fallen as well.
   The dollar’s all-time low was 61.79 cents US in January 2002.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Canadian economy took a hit in 2015

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 3/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s economy was battered in 2015, with the dollar losing 16 percent of its value against the United States currency and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) down 11 percent.
   With the arrival of the new year, Canadians face higher food and restaurant prices with the bite of a slumping dollar.
   There was no joy in Canada’s resource rich oil patches, primarily Alberta where 63,500 jobs were lost in the first eight months of the year while the average weekly pay fell 2.6 percent to $1,129 (Canadian).
   The drop in oil and commodity prices hit the dollar hard as it fell to 72 U.S. cents while pushing the U.S. dollar to near $1.40 Canadian.
   BMO economist Doug Porter said the “carnage” led to the third-worst year since 1992 when the buck fell by 9 percent.
   The TSE’s composite index ended the year at 13,009 points, compared with 14,632 a year ago and the worst since 2011.
   The dollar’s fall has led to higher food costs since 81 percent of all vegetables and fruit consumed in Canada are imported.
   University of Guelph’s Food Institute estimates the average Canadian household spent an additional $325 on food in 2015 and can expect to pay about $345 more this year.