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Canada’s record pay gap: Why so many are leaving home for Alberta Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.

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Record wage gap
Canadian readers can be forgiven if they missed a key statistic - $6 - because they were riveted by that other news story yesterday.

That $6 figure represents a record hourly pay gap, including overtime, between wage earners in the province of Alberta and those in the east.

And it’s one of the reasons that so many people are leaving some parts of Canada for better prospects elsewhere, according to Bank of Montreal.

Data released yesterday by Statistics Canada showed the difference in average hourly wages in Alberta and the rest of the country, but for Saskatchewan, widened again in August.

“Note that hourly wages are now nearly $6 less in Atlantic Canada than in Alberta, the widest gap on record, a factor that has contributed to pushing more than 11,000 migrants out of the region in the past year - a major headache for housing markets, government finances, etc.,” said senior economist Robert Kavcic of BMO Nesbitt Burns.

“Even B.C. is seeing the wage gap approach $4/hour versus Alberta, and not coincidentally is also seeing a decade-high net outflow of workers.”

Average weekly earnings, including overtime, rose in Alberta in August to $1,117.68, according to Statistics Canada, the highest in the country but for the Northwest Territories.

Compare that to Nova Scotia, where those paycheques fell to $809.31.

According to a recent study by Toronto-Dominion Bank, Alberta and Saskatchewan were along among Canada’s provinces in drawing in people between 2010 and 2012. All other regions saw people leave home.

Last year, for example, more than 100,000 people flocked to Alberta, while 56,000 left the province. That brings the net inflow to just shy of 46,000, or 1.2 per cent of the population of the home of the nation’s oil industry.

Alberta and Saskatchewan also boast the country’s lowest unemployment, at 4.3 per cent.

“Consistent with general perception, the destination of migrants is increasingly the greener economic pastures of Alberta and Saskatchewan,” said TD economist Jonathan Bendiner.

“Indeed, Alberta, which accounts for 11 per cent of the national population, managed to attract over 100,000 in-migrants (almost one-third of total migrants) from other provinces in 2012 - a higher reading than compared to the heyday of the oil boom in 2005-06.”

Barrick sinks
Shares of Barrick Gold Corp. sank further today after the miner’s blockbuster announcement of a $3-billion (U.S.) stock sale after markets closed yesterday.

The shares were down by 6.1 per cent to $18.21 about 30 minutes before the New York open.

The stock sale, among the biggest ever in Canada, was just one of the key moves announced yesterday by the world’s biggest gold miner.

As The Globe and Mail’s Rachelle Younglai reports, Barrick also decided to suspend construction at its Pascua Lama gold and silver project that sits on the border of Chile and Argentina.

Barrick is moving to slash costs and bring down a fat debt level.

JPMorgan, Citigroup caught up in probes
Add two more big banks to the growing list of those caught up in probes of the currency markets.

In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. said they have received information requests from authorities.

JPMorgan did not specify whether it was part of the same investigation, but several European banks have already been asked for information in relation to possible manipulation of foreign exchange markets.

“These investigations are in the early stages and the firm is co-operating with the relevant authorities,” the Wall Street giant said.

JPMorgan also disclosed that the SEC and the Justice Department are seeking information related to the bank’s hiring practices in Hong Kong. Again, the bank said it is co-operating, and that other authorities have already done so.

“The firm has received subpoenas and requests for documents from the SEC’s Division of Enforcement regarding, among other things, hiring practices relating to candidates referred by clients, potential clients and government officials, the firm’s employment of certain former employees in Hong Kong, its business relationships with certain related clients in the Asia Pacific region and its engagement of consultants in the Asia Pacific region,” it said.

SNC swings to loss
Canada’s SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. plunged to a third-quarter loss, but said its “difficult” decisions should ease the swings in its results going forward.

SNC lost $72.7-million or 48 cents a share in the quarter, compared to a profit of $114.1-million or 75 cents a year earlier.

“The decisions we have made during the third quarter, while difficult, were necessary,” said chief executive officer Robert Card.

“The impact of the most recent extensive evaluation and analysis of our ongoing projects and the implementation of our globalization program should reduce future earnings volatility and restore our selling, general and administrative expenses … to historic levels.”

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