Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 24/16
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(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.
A “national funeral” was held Friday at the historic Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal for Rene Angelil, husband of Quebec songstress Celine Dion.
The family accepted an offer by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard for the government to play a role in the funeral.
The service was attended by music industry celebrities, politicians and fans at the church where Angelil, also the singer’s manager, and Dion were married in 1994.
Similar to a state funeral, the service was to “honor a man who marked the cultural landscape of our nation,” Couillard said.
Job cuts in the news:
- Canadian Pacific Railway is cutting another 1,000 jobs as it adjusts to lower shipment volumes due to the collapse in commodity prices and a weaker economy. Since 2012, the Calgary-based railway has cut 7,000 jobs even as it reported $6.71 billion in revenue and earnings of $1.62 billion last year.
- Potash Corporation is indefinitely suspending operations at its Picadilly mine near Sussex, New Brunswick with the loss of 430 jobs. Conservative politician Bruce Northrup said the news is “devastating” for the region of 35,000 people. The company is establishing a $5-million fund for “job transition assistance,” along with financial support to businesses and charities.
- Postmedia, Canada’s largest newspaper chain, has merged newsrooms in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa while continuing to publish two papers in each city. The decision resulted in 90 journalists losing their jobs. Postmedia, which bought Quebecor’s Sun Media 173-newspaper chain last year, wants to cut $80 million in costs by the end of next year.
Facts and figures:
The Canadian dollar advanced to 70.72 cents U.S. on Friday while the U.S. dollar was worth $1.414 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada kept its key interest rate steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Markets are mixed, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index up at 12,340 points and the TSX Venture index lower at 483 points.
The average price of gas has dropped to 89.0 cents a liter nationally or $3.38 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Jan. 20) 7, 19, 32, 39, 40 and 48; bonus 45. (Jan. 16) 9, 21, 29, 34, 38 and 42; bonus 13. Lotto Max: (Jan. 15) 7, 26, 27, 31, 32, 33 and 42; bonus 45.
- The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily, is closing its printing plant as publishing continues in decline. Contracting the printing to Transcontinental Inc. will result in 300 jobs lost at the Star. The move comes as the newspaper launched a tablet edition called Star Touch and is offering voluntary buyouts to newsroom staff.
- A Halifax woman, driving what police said was a “moving snowbank,” was given a $180 ticket for failing to clear snow off her windshield. The woman said she was on the way to a car wash to melt the snow. In Brussels, Ontario, an 80-year-old man told police he was “too old and weak” to clean his windshield, other than the small hole he had to peer through.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com