How satisfied are you with things in Canada? Poll reveals a chasm between Alberta, Quebec - National Post - Canada News Media
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How satisfied are you with things in Canada? Poll reveals a chasm between Alberta, Quebec – National Post

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How satisfied you are with the way things are going in Canada depends very much on where you are living, reveals a new poll.

While a majority of Canadians are satisfied with the direction of the country, there is a wildly different sentiment in the Prairies, where people are feeling widespread dismay at the state of affairs, a new survey from the Angus Reid Institute says.

“The prospect of a new year is bringing new concerns and anxieties for some Canadians and a bullish outlook for others. How they feel has largely to do with where they live,” says the institute in a news release headlined “Two Canadas?”

The poll shows that more than 60 per cent of Canadians living in central Canada, the Atlantic Provinces and British Columbia are happy with the ways things are going in the country. In Alberta and Saskatchewan, the numbers are almost reversed, with only 29 per cent of Albertans and 39 per cent of people in Saskatchewan satisfied with the direction Canada is taking.

Those numbers represent steep declines from four years ago. In Alberta, the number of people happy with the direction of the country has plummeted from 53 per cent in 2016 to 29 per cent today. In Saskatchewan, the number has dropped 18 percentage points from 57 to 39 per cent.

About 54 per cent of Manitobans are satisfied with the direction of the country this year, which is a decline of 14 percentage points from 2016.

The regional disparity in the country is almost matched by a big difference in how men and women feel about the direction of the country. Across Canada, 46 per cent of men say they are unhappy with the way things are going compared to about 32 per cent of women. There is relatively little difference among age groups.

The deep resentment in Alberta is a consequence of the recent economic downturn and the lengthy and fractious process of getting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built. The project would carry more Albertan oil to the West Coast, where it may be able to command a better price.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney recently unveiled a “fair deal panel,” which is examining the various ways Albertans think Confederation is unbalanced against them.

The panel’s website says it will look for ways to get a “bigger voice within the federation, increase our power over areas of provincial jurisdiction, and advance our vital economic interests, such as building energy pipelines.”

But the poll also found that people across the country are far more worried about the future of their province. Asked if they are optimistic or pessimistic about the future of their province, respondents across the country are almost evenly divided (53 per cent optimistic versus 47 per cent pessimistic).

The biggest divide is between Alberta and Quebec. Seventy-seven per cent of people in Alberta feel pessimistic whereas 73 per cent of people in Quebec feel optimistic. Saskatchewan and the Atlantic also saw a slim majority of people feeling pessimistic.

One bright spot in the survey results is that Canadians are much more optimistic about their own lives than they are about the country as a whole. Seventy-five per cent of Canadians say they are optimistic about their own future. In Alberta, where fewer than 30 per cent of respondents are optimistic about the country, 58 per cent are still optimistic about their own situation. And the most rose-coloured Canadians are in Quebec, where 87 per cent of people are optimistic about their own future.

A person’s optimism about their own situation tends to rise with income levels, but a large majority of households with the lowest income are still optimistic. Sixty-eight per cent of Canadians making less than $25,000 per year are optimistic, compared to more than 80 per cent of Canadians who are making more than $100,000 per year.

One thing that people of all ages seem to agree on: young people should be pessimistic about the future. Sixty-one per cent of respondents said they were anxious about the future of the next generation — a five percentage point increase from 2016 — and that response tracks roughly the same among all age groups.

• Email: sxthomson@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Bank of Canada keeps rates at 1.75%, trims 2020 economic forecast – Global News

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The Bank of Canada is keeping its key interest rate target on hold at 1.75 per cent and forecasting a slower-than-expected start for the Canadian economy for 2020.

The central bank says in its latest forecast that the Canadian economy will grow by 1.6 per cent this year, down 0.1 of a percentage point from its projection in October.

READ MORE: Bank of Canada among central banks studying use of digital currencies

While some of the slowdown late last year is being chalked up to a strike at CN Rail and an outage at the Keystone pipeline, the central bank says the weaker figures could also signal that global uncertainty is affecting Canada more than previously predicted.

The picture the bank painted in its report Wednesday was a sharp contrast from its last look at the economy, when a degree of domestic resilience remained in spite of weaker data points outside Canada’s borders.

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Bank of Canada to assess digital currencies with world’s central banks


Bank of Canada to assess digital currencies with world’s central banks

There is “considerable uncertainty” about how long household spending may stay soft, the report said, as households are expected to be more cautious with their spending decisions and save more in the face of high levels of debt – all this despite a federal tax cut that kicked in on Jan. 1 and growth in wages.

The bank suggested weakness in the manufacturing sector and a tightening of provincial purse strings may have a dampening effect on the economy.

READ MORE: Most of Canada’s housing market likely to be fertile ground for bidding wars in 2020

The report says ratification of the new North American free trade deal – a top priority for the Trudeau Liberals now that the U.S. and Mexico have completed their processes – and a partial trade detente between the United States and China should help stoke economic fires in Canada. Growth for 2021 is forecast to hit two per cent, up from the bank’s October forecast of 1.8 per cent. The outlook for the economy could change if the Trump administration follows through on threats to slap tariffs on France, Brazil and Argentina.

The report also cites as a risk ongoing tensions between the United States and Iran, which has already led to the tragic downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet with Canadians onboard. An escalation could roil the Middle East and likely increase the price of oil, leading to higher gas prices across the country. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22,
2020.

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© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Bank of Canada holds interest rates steady – CBC.ca

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The Bank of Canada is staying the course on interest rates, holding the overnight rate steady at 1.75 per cent.

The bank rate is two per cent and the deposit rate is 1.5 per cent.

In a statement about the decision, the bank said “the global economy is showing signs of stabilization, and some recent trade developments have been positive.”

However, it also noted that geo-political issues have emerged “with tragic consequences,” referencing the crash of flight PS752 in Iran, which ended the lives of 57 Canadians and many others with ties to Canada.

The bank said the Canadian economy has been strong but with mixed indicators since it’s last major update with October’s Monetary Policy Report.

“The Bank now estimates growth of 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 and 1.3 percent in the first quarter of 2020. Exports fell in late 2019, and business investment appears to have weakened after a strong third quarter.” 

While some of the slowdown late last year is being chalked up to a strike at CN Rail and an outage at the Keystone pipeline, the central bank says the weaker figures could also signal that global uncertainty is affecting Canada more than previously predicted.

‘Considerable uncertainty’

The picture the bank painted in its report Wednesday was a sharp contrast from its last look at the economy, when a degree of domestic resilience remained in spite of weaker data points outside Canada’s borders.

There is “considerable uncertainty” about how long household spending may stay soft, the report said, as households are expected to be more cautious with their spending decisions and save more in the face of high levels of debt — all this despite a federal tax cut that kicked in on Jan. 1 and growth in wages.

James Marple, senior economist at TD Economics, said in a written statement that the rate decision was expected, but the dovish tone was not, indicating that “the data could be signaling something more pernicious than its baseline forecasts assume.”

Marple’s statement said the bank’s announcement was consistent with TD’s expectations that there will be a 25 basis point cut in the overnight rate later this year. 

“A softening economic outlook alongside tighter financial conditions is a recipe for pushing the Canadian economy further below potential and weakening inflation, conditions the Bank of Canada will not ignore, as it made obvious today.”

The report said ratification of the new North American free trade deal — a top priority for the Trudeau Liberals now that the U.S. and Mexico have completed their processes — and a partial trade detente between the United States and China should help stoke economic fires in Canada.

Growth for 2021 is forecast at two per cent, up from the bank’s October forecast of 1.8 per cent.

The outlook for the economy could change if the Trump administration follows through on threats to slap tariffs on France, Brazil and Argentina.

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Why that cheap flight price in Canada might actually be in U.S. dollars – CBC.ca

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Jane Wasson is still trying to figure out how an Air Canada flight booked last year in Canada, to fly across Canada, was billed in U.S. dollars and included some U.S. taxes.

But Air Canada said the answer is simple — she was using the U.S. site, where the charges are clearly shown in American dollars and there’s a small U.S. flag at the top of the home page.

The airline stressed she paid the same fare as she would have on the Canadian site, once the currency conversion was taken into account.

But Wasson thought she was paying in Canadian dollars and got a shock when the exchange rate kicked in.

“When you booked online there, was no indication that you were paying in American dollars,” she said.

Jane Wasson went to the ‘Air Canada Official Site’ to book a trip, but was billed in U.S. dollars. The airline said she was on the U.S. version of its site. (aircanada.com)

“There was none at all.”

In August, Wasson sat down at her home computer in Minto, N.B., and booked a September round-trip flight on Air Canada’s website, www.aircanada.com, for her husband to fly from Fredericton to Kelowna, B.C., with stopovers in Toronto on both legs.

The cost was $801.14. It wasn’t until she received her credit card statement in September that she saw Air Canada charged her $1,063.55 for the ticket — an additional $262.41.

She contacted the Air Canada call centre, but said the customer service rep was as mystified by the charge as she was. Wasson was advised to file a complaint, which she did.

She also called her credit card company to dispute the charge. It was removed. However, Air Canada maintained she owed the full amount, so the $262.41 charge was placed back on her account.

Air Canada says the flag at the top of their webpage indicates the currency passengers will be charged. It also says pop-ups alert people to the currency being used. (aircanada.com)

Wasson received an acknowledgement of her complaint from Air Canada, followed by a generic response in November that didn’t address the issue, but offered her a 15 per cent discount on another flight within the next year.

She said she has subsequently booked other Air Canada flights and was charged in Canadian dollars.

“As soon as I learned through my credit card [that I was charged in American dollars], I went back … but I haven’t been able to duplicate the American charge,” she said.

She also doesn’t understand why there was a U.S. flight segment tax and a U.S. transportation tax applied to the ticket for flights that were only in Canada.

Similar situations have happened before 

This isn’t the first time an Air Canada passenger has been charged in U.S. dollars.

In December 2018, B.C. resident Doreen Hucal said she was billed in U.S. dollars when she booked her flights on the Air Canada app. At the time, Air Canada said Hucal was using its American website, even though Hucal insisted she was using the app.

In July 2017, the Competition Bureau issued a news release urging people to double-check the type of currency being used by companies online. It referenced purchases including furniture, clothes, jewelry and travel packages.

It said some websites don’t clearly identify which currency they are using, and that the dollar symbol could represent either Canadian or American dollars.

“Ensuring that you are shopping on the company’s Canadian website (with an address ending in “.ca”), or selecting Canada as your country of origin can help, but it does not guarantee that the price shown is in CAD,” said the news release.

CBC News contacted the Competition Bureau to ask whether it has received complaints about airlines charging Canadians in U.S. dollars, how many complaints it’s received and which airlines were involved.

But the Competition Bureau said it wouldn’t answer those questions because it’s required by law to conduct its work confidentially.

Air Canada says U.S. site clearly marked

In an email to CBC News, an Air Canada spokesperson said as an international carrier, the airline sells tickets to people around the world and flights can be purchased in several currencies.

“Aircanada.com has pop-ups asking customers to confirm their country the first time they visit it or if users have not visited the site in a while,” Pascale Dery wrote, adding customers should always check to ensure they are on their preferred site.

Dery said the country is clear because of the flag at the top of the page, and changing countries and currency can be done by simply clicking on a tab.

“Customers are advised several times during the booking process of the currency they are purchasing in, including prior to completing their purchase,” Dery added.

CBC Halifax used the U.S. site to start booking a trip and it did clearly show the charges in U.S. dollars.

This message sometimes pops up on the Air Canada website. At other times, it does not. Wasson says it did not appear on her screen while booking and has not appeared when she made subsequent bookings. (aircanada.com)

CBC then cleared the cache of the computer and attempted to book again on the following day, which yielded a pop-up message that said, “You are about to open the aircanada.com edition for UNITED STATES, but it looks like you’re located in or your previous selection was CANADA.

Dery said that message isn’t a new feature, but Wasson insisted there was no pop-up on her reservation.

Meanwhile, Dery said all tickets are fully refundable within 24 hours of purchase, so customers should check the itinerary receipts sent to them at the time of booking to ensure everything is OK.

Air Canada said it’s willing to refund the $16.80 US flight segment tax to Wasson and has provided a link for her to submit her claim.

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