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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Flights to Caribbean islands to resume in time for the winter by Canadian airlines

   Canada column for Sunday, May 13/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians airlines are heading back to the Caribbean after repairs to airports and key infrastructure from devastating hurricanes.
   Air Transat’s seasonal flights will return to St. Martin/St. Maarten and San Juan, Puerto Rico from Montreal and Toronto before Christmas for four months.
   Transat’s Debbie Cabana said the destinations are mainly embarkation ports for cruises.
   Air Canada expects to operate its normal schedule to the winter destinations along with WestJet while Sunwing wants to get back early next year to St. Maarten where many of the hotels are being repaired.
   Islands hardest hit by the storms were Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Barthelemy, St. Martin, St. Maarten, Barbuda, Cuba and Dominica.
   Places with less damage such as Grand Cayman, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines benefited with additional visitors.
   A study said the hurricane season resulted in a loss of 826,100 visitors to the Caribbean and about 740 million in spending.


   Canada’s trade surplus with the U.S. narrowed to $1.7 billion last month from $2.3 billion in February.
   Overall, the trade deficit advanced to a record $4.1 billion as exports rose and there was a higher domestic demand.
   Exports increased by 3.7 percent to $47.6 billion, largely by aircraft and transportation equipment, parts, farm, fishing and food and energy products.
   Imports gained 6 percent due to motor vehicles and parts and consumer goods.


   News in brief:
   - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the police, not politicians, should decide the restrictions for specific kinds of guns. The Liberal government is facing renewed pressure to impose an outright ban on semi-automatic rifles. The proposed firearms bill would restore the authority of the Mounties to classify firearms without political influence. It would repeal cabinet’s authority to overrule the police determinations.
   - A violet storm with high winds ripped across southern Ontario killing three people including two young men who were clearing branches off a road. The two tree service workers were struck by a falling tree in Milton while clearing limbs to allow a school bus to pass. The storm had gusts of up to 66 mph and downed power lines and trees, and tore apart roofs. A third man died in downtown Toronto when struck by a piece of scaffolding from a construction site.

   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has advanced to 78.32 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.276 in Canadian funds (exchange fees extra).
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1.25 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3.45 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,959 points while the TSX Venture index is 774 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is lower at $1.22 a liter or $4.63 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (May 9) 15, 17, 21, 24, 36 and 37; bonus 32. (May 5) 1, 9, 11, 13, 16 and 28; bonus 6. Lotto Max: (May 4) 1, 11, 15, 16, 20, 29 and 39; bonus 32.


   Regional briefs:
   - Flood-weary New Brunswick residents got some good news as the Trans-Canada Highway between Fredericton and Moncton was reopened Friday afternoon. The highway, used by up to 12,000 vehicles a day, had been closed for a week but flood waters have since receded from record highs. Premier Brian Gallant called in the Armed Forces to aid in the cleanup. Geoffrey Downey of the Emergency Measures Organization said 1,516 people forced from their homes have registered with the Red Cross for assistance.
   - Ontario’s June 7 provincial election promises to be the liveliest in years as Donald Trump-like Conservative Doug Ford is leading in the polls over the unpopular Liberals led by Kathleen Wynne. They are followed by socialist New Democrat Andrea Horwath while Green leader Mike Schreiner’s party trails.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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