Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Government expects higher refugee influx

As Canada prepares to welcome the first of 25,000 Syrian refugees, the government suggests that number could double over the next year.

"The number of refugees is likely to be in the order of 35,000 to 50,000" by the end of next year, Immigration Minister John McCallum said.

The first "mass flight" of up to 300 refugees from Turkey and Jordan is expected to arrive by chartered aircraft on Thursday.

The new Liberal government made a commitment to resettle 25,000 refugees, along with those privately sponsored by churches and families, by the end of February.

Those coming to Canada are undergoing security, immigration and health checks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and McCallum are urging Canadians to support the effort and help the refugees settle in.

"There is a possibility of a social backlash against refugees if Canadians see them as being pampered," McCallum said.

Similar to Canada's earliest settlers, many Syrian refugees will be arriving in the winter, said Governor-General David Johnston.

"A warm Canadian welcome in a cold Canadian winter — what could be more fitting?" he added.

Unemployment rate rises in November

Canada's jobless rate rose slightly last month as the economy lost 35,700 jobs.

This pushed November's unemployment rate up one tenth of a percent to 7.1 percent.

Statistics Canada said the number of part-time positions dropped by 72,300 and full-time jobs added 36,600 workers.

In oil-rich Alberta, the jobless rate jumped to 7 percent from 6.6, with 14,900 jobs lost in one month — the biggest decline of any province.

Many of the job losses nationally were temporary public-administration worker for the October federal election.

News in brief

• Canada's six largest banks reported $34.8 billion in net income in fiscal 2015, up 5 percent from $33.2 billion last year. The profits climbed even with a sluggish economy, the slowdown in consumer borrowing and historically low interest rates. The Royal Bank led TD Bank, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, CIBC and National Bank with $10.03 billion in net income, a record for a Canadian company.

• Canadian Pacific Railway's $29 billion takeover bid was rejected by Norfolk Southern as being "grossly inadequate." CPR said the deal would have improved efficiency and created a broader transcontinental network. The Canadian railway's "short-term, cut-to-the-bone strategy could cause Norfolk Southern to lose substantial revenues from our service-sensitive customer base," said James Squires, president and CEO.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar is lower at 74.75 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.337 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.

Markets are lower with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,351 points and the TSX Venture index 517 points.

The average price of gas is lower at a national average of $1.004 a liter or $3.81 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.

Lotto 6/49: (Dec. 2) 5, 20, 33, 34, 38 and 48; bonus 21. (Nov. 28) 4, 7, 13, 15, 27 and 28; bonus 30. Lotto Max: (Nov. 27) 4, 8, 9, 20, 23, 45 and 46; bonus 31.

Regional briefs

• Manmeet Bhullar, 35, a Conservative member of the Alberta Legislature, was killed when struck by an out-of-control truck during a snowstorm. Bhullar had stopped on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway north of Red Deer to help a motorist whose car had flipped over. He was heading home to Edmonton from Calgary and is survived by his wife Namrita Kaur Rattan.

• Ontario residents have paid billions of dollars too much for electricity due to poor decisions by the Liberal provincial government, says Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk. Power costs have risen by 70 percent between 2006 and 2014 while the Green Energy Act encouraging wind and solar projects helped drive up rates, she said.

• Power was cut to 40,000 customers and ferry sailings were canceled due to high winds battering British Columbia's South Coast. Trees were blown onto Highway 1 in Langley, blocking the eastbound lanes during the Thursday afternoon rush hour. In Atlantic Canada, about 56,000 customers lost power in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island on Friday in the first major snowstorm of the season.

Contact Jim Fox at [email protected]

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