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Canada loses more jobs in May but summer hiring boom looms



Canada lost more jobs than expected in May amid continued lockdowns to curb a harsh third wave of COVID-19, data showed on Friday, but economists were quick to predict a rush of hiring in June as those restrictions ease.

Some 68,000 jobs were lost in May, Statistics Canada said, more than the average analyst forecast for a loss of 20,000. The unemployment rate climbed to 8.2%, in line with expectations. Employment is now 3% below pre-pandemic levels, Statscan said.

“I am hopeful that this is the last down-print we have before we release a fury of hiring activity starting in June,” said Derek Holt, vice president of Capital Market Economics at Scotiabank.

Many Canadian provinces are easing restrictions as new COVID-19 infections plummet and more Canadians get their jab. Canada has administered first doses to about 60% of its adult population, with just over 6% fully vaccinated.

That should bolster the reopening of “high-contact” service sectors, where employment remains furthest below pre-pandemic levels, with hiring set to ramp up in subsequent months as businesses respond to a surge of pent-up demand.

“With households sitting on an exceptionally large stockpile of savings built up during the pandemic, that recovery could accelerate relatively quickly over the summer,” said Nathan Janzen, senior economist at RBC, in a note.

While the Canadian economy has not weathered the third of wave of infections quite as well as it did the second, the expected second-half boom should allow the Bank of Canada to look past the disappointing May numbers, economists said.

“The Bank of Canada will fully look through it,” said Holt. “(The data) will be less choppy as we go into the second half of the year.”

The Bank of Canada is expected to taper its asset purchase program again in the third quarter and has signaled it could start hiking rates as soon as late 2022.

Part-time and full-time employment both dropped in May, and jobs were lost in the goods sector for the first time since April 2020.

Long-term unemployment held relatively steady, while the participation rate for core-age women fell for the second consecutive month in May, dipping back below pre-pandemic levels.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.2% higher at 1.2082 to the greenback, or 82.77 U.S. cents, as the U.S. dollar broadly lost ground.


(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Nichola Saminather and Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Chizu Nomiyama and Angus MacSwan)

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Trudeau says he discussed border with Biden, but no deal



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.

U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel in light of COVID-19 that was first imposed in March 2020 and renewed on a monthly basis since then. The border measures do not affect trade flows.

The border restrictions have choked off tourism between the two countries. Canadian businesses, especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying the Liberal government to relax the restrictions.

Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.

Trudeau, speaking after a Group of Seven summit in Britain, said he had talked to Biden “about coordinating measures at our borders as both our countries move ahead with mass vaccination.” Canada is resisting calls for the border measures to be relaxed, citing the need for more people to be vaccinated.

The United States is ahead of Canada in terms of vaccination totals.

“We will continue to work closely together on moving forward in the right way but each of us always will put at the forefront the interests and the safety of our own citizens,” Trudeau told a televised news conference when asked the Biden conversation.

“Many countries, like Canada, continue to say that now is not the time to travel,” Trudeau added, though he said it is important to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.


(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Man with 39 wive dies in India



A 76-year-old man who had 39 wives and 94 children and was said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in north east India, the chief minister of his home state said.

Ziona Chana, the head of a local Christian sect that allows polygamy, died on Sunday, Zoramthanga, the chief minister of Mizoram and who goes by one name, said in a tweet.

With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33.

Winston Blackmore, the head of a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, has around 150 children from 27 wives – 178 people in total.

Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.

The sect, named “Chana”, was founded by Ziona’s father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families. Ziona married his first wife when he was 17, and claimed he once married ten wives in a single year.

They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

Despite his family’s huge size, Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.

“I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” he said.

“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”


(Reporting by Alasdair Pal and Adnan Abidi in New Delhi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Huawei CFO seeks publication ban on HSBC documents in U.S. extradition case



Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Monday will seek to bar publication of documents her legal team received from HSBC, a request opposed by Canadian prosecutors in her U.S. extradition case who say it violates the principles of open court.

Meng’s legal team will present arguments in support of the ban in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran and potentially causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions on business in Iran.

She has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than two years and fighting her extradition to the United States. Meng has said she is innocent.

Lawyers for Huawei and HSBC in Hong Kong agreed to a release of the documents in April to Meng’s legal team on the condition that they “use reasonable effort” to keep confidential information concealed from the public, according to submissions filed by the defense on Friday.

Prosecutors representing the Canadian government argued against the ban, saying in submissions filed the same day that “to be consistent with the open court principle, a ban must be tailored” and details should be selectively redacted from the public, rather than the whole documents.

A consortium of media outlets, including Reuters News, also opposes the ban.

The open court principle requires that court proceedings be open and accessible to the public and to the media.

It is unclear what documents Huawei obtained from HSBC, but defense lawyers argue they are relevant to Meng’s case.

Meng’s hearing was initially set to wrap up in May but Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes granted an extension to allow the defense to read through the new documents.

Hearings in the extradition case are scheduled to finish in late August.


(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Howard Goller)

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