There are more signs Canada's economy is cruising out of the recession as General Motors and Honda are recalling and hiring 1,170 workers.
GM Canada is bringing back 700 laid-off workers in Ontario as it increases production of the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain.
A third shift is being added at its Oshawa plant, and GM will expand operations at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll.
All laid-off production workers will be back by the end of the year in Oshawa to build the new Equinox, Regal and Camaro convertible while 70 additional workers will be hired at CAMI, said Kevin Williams, GM Canada president.
The company employs about 9,000 people in Canada and had sales of 254,257 vehicles in the country last year. Sales of its vehicles rose 24 percent in Canada in December while Equinox sales soared by 81 percent.
Honda of Canada will add a second shift and create 400 jobs at its Alliston, Ontario, facility that makes the Acura ZDX crossover, Acura MDX and Honda Civic Sedan.
This will boost output to 600 vehicles a day from 400 while Honda has the capacity to produce 390,000 vehicles a year at its two Canadian assembly plants.
Mortgage rates go up
Another sign that historically low interest rates will soon be coming to an end is the move by Canada's largest banks to raise residential mortgage rates.
Royal Bank, TD Canada Trust and Laurentian Bank were first to raise closed-mortgage rates on terms of three, four and five years. It put the five-year rate to 5.85 percent from 5.25 percent.
The Bank of Canada has indicated it will start to increase its key interest rate this summer in response to growing inflationary pressures.
Analysts suggest the central bank rate will rise by up to one percent by the end of the third quarter.
News in brief
• Skyservice Airlines has suspended operations after an Ontario court placed it in receivership. A court-appointed receiver is working with tour operators and customers to resolve passenger issues, the Toronto-based charter company said. Sunquest and Signature Vacations, which used Skyservice for much of its flights, said other arrangements were being made for ticket holders. Skyservice employs about 1,000 people.
• Canada's House of Commons could grow in size as the government wants to add 30 members of Parliament to provide better representation in populous provinces. Steven Fletcher, minister of Democratic Reform, said Ontario should have 18 additional members, British Columbia would get seven more and Alberta needs five more, while the other provinces would remain unchanged.
Facts and figures
Canada's "loonie" dollar is flying higher toward parity with the U.S. greenback.
It's worth 99.15 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0086 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
Higher oil prices and data showing Canada's economy grew at its quickest pace in three years helped push the dollar up 2 cents in the past week.
The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 0.25 percent while the prime lending rate is 2.25 percent.
Stock markets are higher with the Toronto exchange index at 12,151 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,602 points.
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• Mounties say more than 1,000 people across North America lost about $60 million in an investment fraud. Four Alberta men were arrested in connection with the alleged Ponzi scheme. People investing with HMS Financial Inc. between 2001 and 2004 were told they would earn as much as 12 percent a month on their money.
• Known for its low-cost "buck-a-beer," Lakeport Brewery in Hamilton, Ontario, is closing this month with the loss of 143 jobs. Owner Labatt Breweries is moving production to its London, Ontario, operations. "Canada's beer market is intensely competitive, and we need to continually seek the lowest possible overall, and brewery-specific, production costs," spokesman Charlie Angelakos said.
• Canadian-born actress Pamela Anderson has filed Access to Information requests to try to prove the controversial seal hunt wastes taxpayers' money to "prop up the violent, dying seal slaughter." Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said the government continues to support the industry, adding: "I can assure people that seals are not all that cute. These are big, huge animals that eat tons of fish."
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com.