Indigenous pipeline protests in central Canada have choked off the supply of propane by rail into the Maritimes, leading to rationing and fears of running out of supply.
On Thursday evening, CN Rail, the country’s largest railway, announced it was shutting down its entire network east of Toronto because Tyendinaga Mohawk demonstrators near Belleville, Ont., had so far refused to dismantle their blockade.
Up to 85 per cent of propane arrives in the Maritime provinces by railcar and the supply is running out, said Nathalie St. Pierre, president of the Canadian Propane Association.
“You currently have about five days before you’re getting pretty close to running out, so that has a significant impact,” St. Pierre said after talking with dealers in eastern Canada Thursday afternoon.
“We’re talking about thousands of people using propane as their main fuel to heat their homes. We’re talking about lots of industries relying on propane, whether they’re commercial or institutional businesses and seniors homes. It’s getting really critical.”
Given the dependency on rail, the region is always vulnerable to a stoppage. It happened last November during a week-long CN Rail strike. But the president of Halifax-based Wilson Fuels said at least during the strike, some rail cars were moving into the region.
“Since the blockade, there have been no movements of railcars and propane. Because it’s pressurized, it’s hard to store large quantities of propane on hand. The market really requires regular movements of propane, so this has really put us in a difficult situation,” said Ian Wilson.
Wilson is demanding the federal government step in and end the blockades, which have been organized to show solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the construction of a 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline through northern British Columbia.
“While some people see this as some form of legitimate protest I strongly disagree. I would say it’s more akin to terrorism frankly, because the definition of terrorism is using violence and intimidation against civilian populations to further your political views and I mean I think that’s an apt description of what’s going on,” he said.
There have been no reports of violence at the blockade sites.
‘There has to be a resolution’
St. Pierre was more diplomatic, but said the blockades must end.
“We don’t deny the right for people to protest,” she said. “It’s impeding a lot of people to get the products that they need, not just propane, but other types of commodities that they rely on. And so given that the infrastructure of rail is so important in Canada, obviously there has to be resolution of this conflict as soon as possible.”
Wilson said in light of lower inventory, rationing is taking place and the priority is customers using propane for heating.
“That’s going on in order to make things last,” he said.
TSX down amid oil rout while Wall Street inches up in early trading – Global News
Canada’s main stock index was down in early trading on Monday as the price of oil slid to its lowest level since 2002. In the U.S.. however, stocks opened higher on Monday as President Donald Trump followed last week’s massive fiscal stimulus by extending his stay-at-home guidelines, leaving investors guessing at their economic impact.
In Toronto, Canada’s benchmark S&P/TSX composite index was down 56.86 points at 12,630.88.
In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 41.44 points, or 0.19 per cent, at the open to 21,678.22.
Coronavirus outbreak: Kenney calls for coordinated tariffs with U.S. in response to ‘predatory dumping’ of Saudi oil
The S&P 500 opened higher by 17.51 points, or 0.69 per cent, at 2,558.98. The Nasdaq Composite gained 81.08 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 7,583.46 at the opening bell.
On the currency market, the Canadian dollar traded for 70.57 cents US compared with an average of 71.14 cents US on Friday.
The May crude contract was down US$1.37 at US$20.14 per barrel and the May natural gas contract was down 2.3 cents at US$1.65 mmBTU.
The June gold contract was down US$10.80 at US$1,643.30 an ounce and the May copper contract was down 0.65 of a cent at US$2.17 a pound
— With files from the Canadian Press
© 2020 Reuters
Air Canada to temporarily lay off 15000 workers due to COVID-19 fallout – CTV News
Air Canada will temporarily lay off more than 15,000 unionized workers beginning this week as the airline struggles with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The layoffs will continue through April and May amid drastically reduced flight capacity from the Montreal-based airline.
Air Canada says the two-month furloughs will affect about one-third of management and administrative and support staff, including head office employees, in addition to the front-line workers.
The carrier is also cutting between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of its flights, cancelling most of its international and U.S. routes in response to the global shutdown.
Earlier this month Air Canada’s flight attendant union said 5,149 cabin crew would be temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2020.
Two more Canadian banks cut prime rates by 50 basis points – The Globe and Mail
National Bank of Canada and Laurentian Bank of Canada both announced plans Monday to drop their prime rates by 50 basis points to 2.45 per cent. They join the Big 5 banks in decreasing lending rates to match the Bank of Canada’s unscheduled interest rate announcement on Friday.
The new National Bank and Laurentian Bank rates are effective Tuesday. Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia , Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce all cut their prime rates to 2.45 per cent on Friday, and were effective as of Monday.
The Bank of Canada Friday unexpectedly cut its key interest rate to help the county weather the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bank of Canada cut its overnight interest rate by 50 basis points to 0.25 per cent, its lowest level since June 2010.
Separately, Canada’s financial regulator eased its capital and liquidity requirements for banks, changed credit loss provisioning and allowed more loans to be securitized.
The pandemic has forced several governments to take actions as businesses grind to a halt and several retailers close stores to curb the spread of the highly-contagious diseases, leaving many people jobless.
This is the third time the big banks have cut prime rates over the past month. The prime rate impacts the cost of borrowing for many financial products, including variable rate mortgages.
Reuters, Globe staff
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