June 22nd, 2024

In the news today: StatCan’s March and Q1 GDP figures due, B.C. human smuggling soars

By The Canadian Press on May 31, 2024.

The Bay Street Financial District is shown with the Canadian flag in Toronto on Friday, August 5, 2022. Statistics Canada will release this morning its reading on how the economy fared in the first three months of the year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today…

Statistics Canada to release GDP figures for March and Q1 today

Statistics Canada will release this morning its reading on how the economy fared in the first three months of the year. The agency will publish its real gross domestic product figures for March and the first quarter as a whole. The report is the last major economic data point before the Bank of Canada’s interest rate decision set for next week. Central bank governor Tiff Macklem has said a rate cut is within the realm of possibilities, but that the decision will be based on the economic data.

‘Unprecedented’ human smuggling from B.C.: U.S.

U.S. authorities say human smuggling from British Columbia across the American border is soaring, with organized criminals moving people by freight train, Uber or by foot. U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics show that “encounters” at the B-C-Washington border are on track to quadruple since 2021. There were almost 43,000 encounters last fiscal year, up from about 12,000 two years earlier. Matthew Murphy, an assistant special agent with U-S Homeland Security based in Washington state says there’s been an “unprecedented” spike in human smuggling via B-C.

Federal poll found drug decriminalization concerns

A federal government poll last year found a majority of Canadians believed drug decriminalization policy would lead to an increase in overdoses. That was months before British Columbia scaled back its drug decriminalization pilot. The Privy Council Office survey was posted online in the fall. It suggests Canadians were split over whether decriminalization would make their community any less safe.

Jury selection scheduled for Coutts blockade trial

Jury selection is scheduled today for two men charged with conspiracy to commit murder during the 2022 border protest at Coutts, Alta. Anthony Olienick and Chris Carbert were arrested after RCMP found a cache of guns, body armour and ammunition in trailers. Mounties said at the time that they seized long guns, handguns, a machete, a large quantity of ammunition and body armour. The two accused are also charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and mischief.

Interest rate cut may encourage shopping: experts

Canadian retailers who have lamented softening consumer spending could start to see a rebound once the Bank of Canada begins cutting its benchmark interest rate. With borrowing costs still high, consumers have been reining in their spending or opting for more cost-conscious brands. Liza Amlani, principal and founder at the Retail Strategy Group, sees some of this behaviour easing if the interest rate lowers, delivering some relief to Canadians. Amlani says a lower interest rate would mean more disposable income to be spent on apparel, footwear and even experiences and activities.

Loblaw testing out small-format No Frills stores

Loblaw is testing smaller-format discount stores across the country this year as shoppers increasingly look for ways to save on their grocery bill. Melanie Singh, who leads Loblaw’s discount division that includes No Frills and Maxi, says the company has a handful of smaller discount stores already, but plans to “lean in” to the strategy as a way of reaching more customers. Singh says these smaller stores will cater to the local neighbourhood. For example, this store at the corner of King and Shaw Sts. in Liberty Village in Toronto has grab-and-go options like fresh-baked pastries, which many discount stores don’t have.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2024.

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