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Sunday, February 7, 2016

$1 billion in aid set for oil-battered Alberta from the Canadian government



   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 7/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Liberal government is offering $1 billion in aid to Alberta as the province faces “rapid change and significant shock” from falling oil prices, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
   “Alberta and Albertans have contributed tremendously to Canada’s growth – particularly over the past 10 years – and our economy right across the country has benefitted,” he added.
   “Now, Alberta is facing challenging times and quite frankly, Canadians help other Canadians when they’re facing tough times,” Trudeau while meeting with Premier Rachel Notley in Edmonton.
   The prime minister has committed to “fast track” $700 million in previously announced infrastructure money to create jobs.
   As well, the government will provide up to $250 million in fiscal stabilization funds in a program that help provinces experiencing major revenue declines.
   Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the March 29 budget will include investments in Canada’s economy that will help other provinces hit by the oil-price slump such as Saskatchewan and Newfoundland/Labrador.

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   A Toronto-area man pleaded guilty to drunk driving causing death in a crash that killed three children and their grandfather as he drove home from his bachelor party.
   Marco Muzzo, 29, was released from jail on $1-million bail to await sentencing on Feb. 23.
   “A drunk driver killed my family and he admitted to it,” said distraught mother Jennifer Neville-Lake who was surprised that Muzzo was freed on bail.
   Muzzo had been in jail since he crashed into the family’s van in Vaughan, Ontario last Sept. 27.
   Judge Michelle Fuerst said bail was “not some sort of special privilege” granted to Muzzo, whose family is one of the wealthiest in Canada.

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   News in brief:
   - Canada’s unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent, up from 7.1 percent, last month with job gains of 19,800 in Ontario offset by significant losses in Alberta. Statistics Canada said there was a net loss of 21,900 full-time jobs in Alberta for a jobless rate of 7.4 percent.
   - Walmart Canada will be charging five cents for plastic bags at its 397 Canadians stores in a conservation effort. The company will offer reusable bags for 25 cents beginning Feb. 9. It wants to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and Walmart said it will give some of the money to support recycling initiatives.

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   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar has advanced to 72.03 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.388 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Markets are higher, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 12,726 points and the TSX Venture index 505 points.
   The average price of gas has dropped to 86.7 cents a liter nationally or $3.29 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon. Lowest price in Canada is 64.4 cents in Calgary and 67.9 in Ottawa.
   Lotto 6/49: (Feb. 3) 20, 23, 34, 38, 43 and 47; bonus 15. (Jan. 30) 4, 5, 32, 37, 38 and 44; bonus 34. Lotto Max: (Jan. 29) 5, 11, 14, 17, 28, 41 and 47; bonus 46.

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   Regional briefs:
   - Three Canadians are credited with saving the lives of a young Mexican boy and his father while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Alberta firefighter Andrew Pearson came to the rescue of the two struggling in the water. Noticing he needed help, Liz Haley-Armstrong and her son Bob Haley of Saskatchewan swam out and helped pull Pearson and the father to safety.
   - Thanks to the weather phenomenon El Nino, Toronto and southern Ontario set temperature records last Tuesday. Toronto reached 15.5C (60F), a high for that day. Environment Canada chief climatologist David Phillips said this has been the second-warmest winter on record and the one with the least snow. Temperatures then returned to near freezing the rest of the week.
   - People living in Quebec are generally happy, according to an Angus Reid Institute poll. The survey found the “happiest provinces” are Quebec at 22 percent of respondents, British Columbia, 20 percent and Manitoba, 19 percent. Ontario had 14 percent, Saskatchewan, 13, Alberta, 12 and Atlantic Canada had the “saddest” people at 9 percent.

   -30-

   Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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