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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Canadian politician wants gas prices regulated to avoid "getting gouged"

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 26/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   An Ontario politician wants the provincial government to regulate gas prices so that drivers won’t be “getting gouged at the pumps.”
   New Democrat Gilles Bisson’s “private member’s bill” calls for the Ontario Energy Board to set the retail price of gas and the wholesale markup of petroleum products.
   People are frustrated by fluctuating gas prices in different regions and from day to day, he said.
   Prices often jump overnight and can have a wide spread between southern Ontario and the north with higher transportation costs.
   Liberal government Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, who doesn’t plan to support Bisson’s bill, said it would “hurt consumers” across the province.
   He noted a study by the board found gas costs were often higher in areas, such as Newfoundland, with regulated the prices as retailers merely set their prices at the allowed maximum.


   Just in time for the holidays, Sobeys grocery store chain is cutting about 800 office jobs across Canada in a restructuring of its five regional headquarters into one national organization.
   The country’s second-largest grocer after Loblaw Cos. has about 260 stores and 1,500 with subsidiaries.
   Based in Nova Scotia and owned by the Empire Company, it faces challenges including rising minimum wages, competition from new rivals and technological change.
   There are also higher operating costs with the acquisition of Safeway stores in Western Canada.
   The success of Sobeys “depends on our steadfast commitment to transform our business,” said Michael Medline, chief executive of Sobeys and Empire.


   News in brief:
   - The Canadian government has announced a housing strategy to tackle homelessness and ease the shortage of “affordable” housing. It would focus on building and finding homes for low-income earners instead of paying for more homeless shelters. The plan is to spend $40 billion over 10 years in partnership with the provincial and territorial governments.
   - Community college students who quit at mid-term due to a five-week strike by faculty and staff can get their tuition refunded, the Ontario government says. Those among the 500,000 students who remain can apply for up to $500 in “hardship” aid, said Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews. The strike by 12,000 faculty ended with the passing of a back-to-work bill last weekend.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 78.7 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.27 in Canadian funds before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3.2 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 16,108 points while the TSX Venture index is lower at 794 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is lower at $1.17 a liter or $4.44 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Nov. 22) 26, 28, 31, 36, 38 and 45; bonus 18. (Nov. 18) 9, 16, 18, 22, 23 and 40; bonus 13. Lotto Max (Nov. 17) 3, 15, 22, 23, 33, 47 and 49; bonus 6.


   Regional briefs:
   - Reports suggest that should the Conservatives defeat the governing Liberals in next June’s Ontario election, the party would take over and expand the Toronto subway system. Leader Patrick Brown also plans to invest $1.9 billion in mental health services and cut middle-class income taxes by 22.5 percent. There would also be a new child-care tax benefit, allowing families to write off more of their daycare expenses.
   - Rescuers found Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister who was injured while hiking alone in New Mexico. His office said he was on vacation and hiking in the Gila Wilderness when he had a serious fall and broke his left arm in several places and had numerous cuts and bruises. He was found as nightfall was setting in by a police officer at the entrance to the Mogollon Trail.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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