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In The News for Jan. 26 : Economists watching labour market as BoC pauses rate hikes

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 26 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Tiff Macklem, Governor of the Bank of Canada, holds a press conference at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 26 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

As the Bank of Canada takes a pause from raising interest rates to assess the effects of higher borrowing costs on the economy, economists will be paying close attention to how the labour market is affected. 

On Wednesday, the central bank raised its key interest rate for the eighth consecutive time and said it was taking a conditional pause, keeping the door open to further rate hikes if inflation isn't tamed. 

In its latest monetary policy report, the Bank of Canada said it expects the full effects of rate hikes on the labour market to play out over a longer period. 

As businesses and consumers pull back on spending, economists expect unemployment to rise, though by how much is up for debate as the labour market has remained strong despite the central bank's tightening cycle. 

Labour groups have voiced concerns about the Bank of Canada's rate hikes in recent months, with Unifor president Lana Payne previously accusing the central bank of waging war on the working class.

However, some economists are cautiously optimistic that employment may prove to be somewhat resilient to the slowdown, given that unemployment is currently near historical lows. 


Also this ...

Via Rail executives are set to address a federal committee today about the delays that plagued travellers over the holidays.

Earlier this month, the Crown corporation apologized for the widespread delays passengers saw between Dec. 23 and 26 as a winter storm swept across Ontario and Quebec.

The railway has said that the derailment of a CN Rail freight train caused further delays to trains on its east-west corridor between Quebec City and Windsor, Ont.

Some passengers found themselves stranded on trains for upwards of 20 hours. 

Via Rail apologized for not being more forthcoming with its customers about the situation and providing timely updates on delays.

Its executives are appearing at the committee as Opposition members of Parliament argue it's time to extend the country's air passenger protection regulations to cover travel by train. 

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra appeared at the committee earlier this month and vowed to toughen up existing rules, which critics argue lack the teeth to hold companies accountable for compensating air passengers. 

But in a statement provided to The Canadian Press, Alghabra's office did not address whether the minister supports calls to expand the existing passenger protection regime to cover those travelling by rail. 

Via Rail's appearance follows earlier testimony by leaders at Air Canada, WestJet and Sunwing, who faced questions about the hundreds of flights they cancelled or delayed over the holidays. 

Sunwing Airlines came under particular scrutiny after hundreds of passengers were left stranded in Mexico, saying they could not get an answer from the company about returning to Canada. They have all since returned to Canada, and the airline has apologized.

Sunwing faced criticism not long after for cancelling all flights out of Saskatchewan until early February. It has also reduced winter flights out of Moncton, N.B., Fredericton and Halifax. 


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. _ The 72-year-old gunman who sprayed bullets into a Southern California ballroom dance hall, killing 11 people, had no known connection with the victims and investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the massacre, the Los Angeles County sheriff said Wednesday.

Before the shooting Saturday night, Huu Can Tran parked a motorcycle just a block away from the ballroom in Monterey Park, which investigators believe he had planned to use as a backup getaway vehicle, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said during a news conference hours after police seized the motorcycle.

Tran opened fire on a mostly senior crowd of dancers at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, killing 11 people and wounding nine, police said.

The carnage, during what should have been joyful Lunar New Year celebrations, sent ripples of fear through Asian American communities already dealing with increased hatred and violence directed at them.

Some reports had said Tran frequented the dance hall and fancied himself as an instructor, but Luna said he hadn't been there in at least five years and did not appear to target the victims specifically.

"We have not been able to establish a connection between the suspect and any of the victims thus far,'' Luna said.

Luna said it wasn't clear how long Tran had been planning the attack in the city about 12.8 kilometres from downtown Los Angeles or what prompted him to spray at least 42 bullets, taking time to reload his weapon, a variant of the MAC-10 semi-automatic machine pistol with a 30-round magazine.

Tran's motive continued to elude detectives days after the tragedy as they searched piles of items and paperwork seized from Tran's home and a van he used to flee, the sheriff said.

About 20 minutes after the carnage in Monterey Park, Tran entered another dance hall about 5.6 kilometres away in Alhambra, where an employee confronted and disarmed him during a brief struggle. Tran later shot himself in the van where his body was found Sunday morning.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KYIV, Ukraine _ Ukrainian officials said Thursday that Russia has launched a wave of missile and self-exploding drone attacks on the country.

Air raid sirens wailed countrywide, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or of the missiles and drones striking targets.

The head of the Kyiv city administration said that 15 cruise missiles were shot down.

Serhii Popko said the missiles were fired "in the direction of Kyiv'' but did not clarify if the capital itself was a target. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said explosions were heard in Kyiv's Dniprovskyi district, on the east side of the river that divides the city.

The attacks came after Germany and the United States announced Wednesday that they will send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine, offering what one expert called an "armoured punching force'' to help Kyiv break combat stalemates as the Russian invasion enters its 12th month.

Canada has yet to confirm if it will send tanks.

Speaking at a news conference in Hamilton on Wednesday marking the end of a three-day cabinet retreat, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada has stepped up significantly to support the Ukrainian people and Ukraine itself. But he stressed he would not be making an immediate announcement on supplying tanks. 

"We will continue to be there to give whatever support we can to Ukraine," Trudeau told reporters. "But I can tell you we are looking very, very closely at what more we can do to support Ukraine.''


On this day in 1976 ...

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau became the first Canadian leader to pay an official visit to Cuba. Trudeau and President Fidel Castro developed a close personal relationship and remained friends for years.


In entertainment ...

LOS ANGELES _ Hulu on Wednesday became the second television company to cut ties with "Rick and Morty'' creator Justin Roiland after felony domestic abuse charges against him were revealed.

"We have ended our association with Justin Roiland,'' 20th TV Animation and Hulu Originals said in a statement.

Roiland co-created and provides voices for the streaming outlet's animated show "Solar Opposites,'' and is also a producer and actor on its animated "Koala Man.'' Both shows will continue without him.

On Tuesday, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim division, home to the animated sci-fi sitcom "Rick and Morty,'' made the same move, saying in a brief statement that they have ended their association with Roiland.

Squanch Games, a video game developer Roiland co-founded, said on Twitter later Tuesday that he had resigned from the company.

Roiland, 42, was charged in Orange County, California in January of 2020 with two counts of felony domestic violence against a former girlfriend that he was living with. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

The charges went unreported until NBC News ran a story on them earlier this month.

Roiland provided the voices of the two title characters, a mad scientist and his grandson, in "Rick and Morty.'' He and Dan Harmon created the show that has run for six seasons and has been renewed for a seventh. Adult Swim has said the series will continue without him, but have not announced who the new vocal performers will be.<


Did you see this?

 It's that time of year when gloomy weather and New Year's resolutions gone by the wayside leave many of us not feeling our best. Even if we know that exercise will help us feel better, getting up and moving can feel like too much of a challenge, especially for those suffering from anxiety or depression.

Some exercise scientists and psychologists say many of the messages we get about fitness don't help.

"There's really strong evidence that exercise can be beneficial to help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms,'' said Jennifer Heisz, Canada Research Chair in Brain Health and Aging in the department of kinesiology at McMaster University. "(But) I think it's very off-putting when you look at the exercise guidelines for physical health and you think that you need to achieve those for mental health.''

The World Health Organization recommends that adults between 18 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, plus muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.

ParticipACTION, an organization promoting physical activity, said it takes much less than that to gain mental-health benefits, but many people don't know that. It commissioned an online survey of 1,526 adult Canadians conducted by Leger, which found that 36 per cent of respondents thought they needed to exercise for more than half an hour to "feel the mental boost.''

Not true, said Leigh Vanderloo, an exercise scientist with ParticipACTION.

Taking 10 to 15 minutes a day to move your body "is going to have some pretty promising effects from a mental-health impact,'' Vanderloo said.

"There's no such thing as bad movement,'' she said. "Think of all the opportunities you have in your day already that you could be moving more.''

That could mean taking a quick walk around the office between meetings, parking a bit further away when you're picking up the kids from school, running upstairs, raking leaves, housecleaning, gardening or dancing, Vanderloo said.

"Every step counts,'' said Heisz.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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