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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Interest rate hikes make living costs more for most Canadians

   Canada column for Sunday, July 15/18

   By Jim Fox

   Canadians are paying more for variable rate mortgages and lines of credit as the central bank raised its key interest rates over free trade concerns.
   The Bank of Canada upped the rate by 0.25 percent to 1.5 percent, the fourth increase in a year as the economy heats up with strong employment gains.
   Canada’s major banks followed by increasing their prime-lending rates one quarter of a point to 3.7 percent.
   Bank Governor Stephen Poloz said the increase was prompted by “the various uncertainties we face” with trade tensions the biggest issue for the country.
   As for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, there could be difficulties for some industries and workers but “the effect of these measures on Canadian growth and inflation is expected to be modest,” he said.


   Toronto will boost its night shift of front-line police officers by 200 through the summer in an effort to reduce gun violence.
   Police Chief Mark Saunders said officers will be sent to areas needing them by “strategic deployment.”
   As well, Mayor John Tory said there will be additional community programs to help at-risk youth.
   This year there have been 26 deaths and 79 people injured, up from 16 and 70 in 2017.
   The $3-million cost for added officers will be covered by the Ontario government with additional assistance from the federal and city governments.


   News in brief:
   - Canadian-based Hudson’s Bay Company will no longer sell Ivanka Trump’s clothing line at its department stores worldwide and has dropped the brand from its website based on its performance. The move is due to “our regular course of business to remerchandise offerings and make appropriate changes,” it added. There was no comment on whether it has anything to do with an ongoing boycott of the brand.
   - Toronto and Vancouver are Canada’s most-expensive cities in Mercer’s annual cost of living survey. It ranked 375 cities and looked at factors such as costs of housing, transportation, food, clothing and other expenses. It compares New York City as the base and ranked the two Canadian cities tied at 109th place. The most expensive are Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Singapore and Seoul.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has dropped to 75.98 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.316 in Canadian funds (bank exchange fees extra).
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is up 0.25 percent at 1.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3.7 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 16,561 points while the TSX Venture index is lower at 725 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada has dropped to $1.329 a liter or $5.05 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (July 11) 1, 9, 11, 38, 45 and 48; bonus 25. (July 7) 1, 3, 25, 40, 44 and 47; bonus 2. Lotto Max: (July 6) 1, 11, 20, 32, 41, 42 and 44; bonus  47.


   Regional briefs:
   - New Ontario Premier Doug Ford is ousting the head of the provincial utility Hydro One to cut costs. Ford said he will also reduce electricity bills by 10 percent and has prompted chief executive officer Mayo Schmidt, who earned $6 million last year, to retire. Even so, he will receive $400,000 in compensation, stock options reports say are worth $10.7 million and an annual pension of about $162,000.
   - A Nova Scotia woman said even though her nephew’s name was on a winning $1.2-million lottery ticket with hers, he doesn’t deserve half. A feud erupted when Barb Reddick and nephew Tyrone MacInnis received tax-free cash prizes of $611,319.50 each in the Chase the Ace lottery in Margaree Forks. Reddick said she will sue MacInnis for the money. Putting his name with hers was for “good luck,” not half the big prize, she said.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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