Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Canada's dollar slump adds to travel expense

Canada's slumping dollar — dipping to a six-year low of 89.5 U.S. cents — is making it more expensive to travel to warm-weather destinations.

Several travel tour operators are immediately implementing a "currency surcharge" on vacation packages.

Air Canada Vacations and Transat A.T. will add a $35 fee Monday to offset the decline of the dollar to destinations including Florida, California, the Caribbean and Mexico.

Sunwing's similar surcharge takes effect Thursday on flights and vacation packages.

The intent of the surcharge is to recover some of the added costs for fuel and hotels charged in U.S. dollars.

Transat chief executive Jean-Marc Eustache said he doesn't expect the small amount to deter travel to sunny destinations.

Sunwing passengers who booked before the surcharge begins are not affected, while WestJet Vacations said it isn't planning to add a surcharge.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said it's not all bad news, as a weaker currency spurs economic growth by boosting exports to help eliminate the government's spending deficit.

Ford's latest rant is captured on video

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is back in the news in a negative way after a video emerged showing him in a rambling, profane rant in a restaurant on Monday night.

Ford, who acknowledged he had been drinking "on his own time," was shown criticizing police Chief Bill Blair in a largely incoherent rant using Jamaican swear words.

The mayor said in November that he had quit drinking after admitting to smoking crack cocaine in one of his "drunken stupors."

After the revelations and after he refused to resign, the City Council stripped Ford of most of his powers and staff.

News in brief

• The death toll of 10 is expected to climb as 22 people are missing after Residence du Havre, a seniors home in the eastern Quebec town of L'Isle-Verte, burned to the ground. Investigators said the home had only a partial sprinkler system. The building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived early Thursday, and they were hampered by severe cold weather.

• On his first visit to Jordan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed another $100 million to help the country deal with an influx of Syrian refugees. Canada earlier committed $110 million and $47.7 million for security-related assistance. While in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Harper for cutting diplomatic ties with Iran.

• First, people gave up their home telephones in favor of cellphones. Now a survey says one Canadian in seven plans to drop cable or satellite TV service in the next year. The Media Technology Monitor survey found that they will opt for free over-the-air signals, Web-based feeds or cheaper alternatives such as Netflix.

Facts and figures

News of the low Canadian inflation rate in December of 1.2 percent helped support the dollar as it rose to 90.29 cents U.S. on Friday. The U.S. dollar returned $1.1075 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

Even with the recent fall of the dollar, the currency remains strong, the Bank of Canada said, as it kept its key interest rate at 1 percent. The prime lending rate remains at 3 percent.

Stock markets were lower on Friday, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,730 points and the TSX Venture index at 966 points.

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Regional briefs

• Kathy Dunderdale, who was criticized over her leadership, is resigning as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as leader of the Conservative party. Two members of her caucus defected to the Liberals, and she was especially criticized over rolling power outages that left 190,000 customers without electricity this month. Finance Minister Tom Marshall has been named interim premier.

• Brutally cold weather has returned to eastern Canada with wind chill warnings and record-breaking temperatures, all blamed on a polar vortex. Temperatures of below zero degrees Fahrenheit at night and in the single digits by day were widespread in Ontario and Quebec, along with blowing snow. A storm dumped up to 20 inches of snow across the Maritimes, while out west, Vancouver and Calgary were 48 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday and Winnipeg was 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Jim Fox can be reached at [email protected]

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