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Job losses pile up in Canada

There are clear signs Canada's economy is slowing with the loss of 55,000 jobs last month, the biggest drop since the recession of the early 1990s.

Hardest hit were Quebec and Ontario, Canada's most populated provinces, struggling with manufacturing job losses.

The national jobless rate actually improved slightly to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent in June, Statistics Canada said. This was because many people, especially younger workers, are no longer looking for work.

Analyst Michael Gregory of BMO Capital Markets said the economy is "clearly downshifting" as it responds to the U.S. economic downturn and current weakness of the Canadian dollar.

The dollar slipped to 93 cents U.S., its lowest level in a year, largely because of the sharp drop in oil prices and a strengthening U.S. currency.

Ontario lost 41,000 manufacturing jobs, amounting to 88,000 over the past year, while Alberta added 7,000 jobs. Ontario's net job loss was 19,000, while Quebec saw 30,000 fewer people working.

The only gains were in accommodation and food service jobs, with 22,000 positions created nationally.

Co-workers share half of big lottery prize

Canada's second-largest lottery prize of $45-million ($42.3-million U.S.) was won on two tickets.

Sharing half the Lotto 6-49 tax-free prize are 24 employees of Bray Motors in Sundridge, Ontario. Dealership owner Peter Bray said everyone there had a share of the winning ticket and no one has quit yet. They have been buying lottery tickets as a group for 14 years.

The other winning ticket was sold in Quebec but the winner was not yet known.

The largest jackpot in Canada was $54.3-million ($51.2-million U.S.), won on a single ticket in 2005.

News in brief

• Canada has sent the warship HMCS Ville de Quebec to the waters off the Horn of Africa to prevent pirates from attacking food shipments bound for Somalia. Defense Minister Peter MacKay said the frigate and its crew of 253 were diverted from a NATO mission in the Mediterranean. It will provide escort for U.N. World Food Program vessels trying to reach Somali ports.

• At least two U.S. visitors found themselves walking after losing their wheels as a result of Ontario's new law against street racing. Last weekend, police seized more than 150 vehicles, issued immediate license suspensions and wrote tickets for $2,000 or more to those caught driving 30 mph or more over the limit. The fastest was a New York man stopped for going 141 mph on a 62 mph (100 km/h) Toronto expressway.

• "Please kill me," Vince Weiguang Li, accused of beheading a man on a Winnipeg-bound bus, told Judge Michel Chartier before he was remanded into custody for a psychiatric examination. Li faces a second-degree murder charge in the July 30 killing of Tim McLean Jr. on a Greyhound bus west of Portage La Prairie, Manitoba.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar plunged to 93.61 cents U.S. on Friday, while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0683 Canadian, before bank exchanges fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 3 percent, while the prime lending rate is 4.75 percent.

Stock markets are again lower, with Toronto's composite index at 13,305 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 2,114 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 10, 18, 22, 26, 34, 38, bonus 39; (Aug. 2) 2, 9, 26, 44, 47, 49, bonus 34. Super 7: (Aug. 1) 1, 14, 24, 26, 31, 36, 45, bonus 13.

Regional briefs

• Heavy rain in Quebec caused flooding in many areas and collapsed roadways. Hardest hit was Beauceville, south of Quebec City, where the overflowing Chaudiere River washed out roads. There was heavy rain in St.-Marc-du-Lac-Long, Pohenegamook and the Iberville region while about 100 homes and businesses were flooded in Montreal.

• The Canadian government will spend $100-million to widen a dangerous 8-mile stretch of the mountain highway between Alberta and British Columbia. Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement about the work on the Trans-Canada Highway using Banff National Park as a backdrop. There have been numerous crashes, many involving vehicles and animals, along the single-lane highway that cuts through the park.

• Someone drove away with a truckload of souvenirs after an Iggy Pop and the Stooges' concert in Montreal. A rental truck containing all their equipment was stolen after the show. It was found empty the next day, several blocks from the hotel where it was taken, police said. The musicians scrambled to borrow enough equipment to stage a show in Toronto the next night.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

Job losses pile up in Canada 08/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 11, 2008 10:01am]

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