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These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, July 8, 2014.

Follow Michael Babad and The Globe's Business Briefing on Twitter.

Labour markets bleak in central, eastern Canada
Canada's jobs market may have rebounded faster than those of other countries, but unemployment still looks ugly everywhere east of Manitoba.

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In a new report on Canada's provinces today, Toronto-Dominion Bank forecasts that unemployment levels will remain above 7 per cent in central and Atlantic Canada until at least through 2015. And in some provinces, far above that mark.

Here's what economists Derek Burleton and Jonathan Bendiner project: Jobless rates of 6.3 per cent and 6.1 per cent this year and next, respectively, in British Columbia, 4.4 per cent and 4.2 per cent in Alberta, 4.2 per cent and 4.1 per cent in Saskatchewan, and 5.4 per cent and 5.1 per cent in Manitoba.

The outlook is far bleaker heading east from there: 7.4 per cent and 7.1 per cent in Ontario, 7.6 per cent and 7.4 per cent in Quebec, 10 per cent and 9.6 per cent in New Brunswick, 8.8 per cent and 8.5 per cent in Nova Scotia, 11.6 per cent and 11.3 per cent in Prince Edward Island, and 11.9 per cent and 11.6 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

TD expects the national jobless rate to be 7 per cent this year, and 6.7 per cent in 2015.

Statistics Canada releases its June reading of the labour market on Friday.

In May, an increase in part-time jobs pushed up employment by 26,000 but unemployment rate also edged up, to 7 per cent, as more people went looking for work.

Canada's labour market has been weak over the past year, with job-creation of just 86,000, or 0.5 per cent, and all of it  part-time, at that.

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Almost six years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, more than 1.3 million people are still without jobs.

"Labour markets and real estate in Atlantic Canada have generally been struggling this year. With the exception of New Brunswick, all provinces have recorded employment declines on a year-to-date basis," the TD economists said.

"Public sector employment has pulled back in Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island (PEI), while Nova Scotia has recorded widespread declines with the level of employment in the construction, professional services and trade sectors well below their year ago readings," they said in the report.

"The overall pull back in employment in the Atlantic region is consistent with the population growth numbers which show sustained weakness across most of the region's provinces so far this year," they added.

Vatican bank plans further reforms
Pope Francis today launched the second stage of reforming the Vatican bank as the institution's profit plunged.

The scandal-plagued Istituto per le Opere di Religione, which the pontiff is cleaning up aggressively, said today its 2013 profit sank to just €2.9-million, from €86.6-million a year earlier, for several reasons, including losses on its gold reserves.

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"This is a time of major change in the Holy See, not only for the IOR, Cardinal-Prefect George Pell said in a statement.

"With the support of the Holy Father and the Council of Cardinals, we are creating simpler, more efficient structures for those serving the mission of the Catholic Church," he said as the institution unveiled plans to "implement a series of changes to governance and operations that will ensure continuity of service in the context of a broader reform of the economic and administrative structures" of the Vatican.

Device nears trials
A challenge from Bill Gates two years ago has put science on the cusp of a revolutionary, remote-controlled method of birth control.

Indeed, a new device from MicroCHIPS of Lexington, Mass., is set for preclinical trials next year, and could be available by 2018, according to Technology Review.

It's a fascinating method that, if successful and approved, would work via an implant that would last for 16 years.

According to MIT Technology Review's Gwen Kinkead in a report last week, the small device, which in millimeters is 20 by 20 by 7, would be implanted under a woman's skin.

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It would then send into the body 30 micrograms of levonorgestrel each day via a battery-generated current that temporarily disables a seal in the tiny containers that hold the hormone.

It turns on or off via remote control.

This all began, Ms. Kinkead writes, when Mr. Gates asked Robert Langer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, during a visit to his lab, if something like this could be done.

Mr. Langer, who co-founded MicroCHIPS, had already successfully tested what the company called an "implantable, wirelessly controlled and programmable microchip-based drug delivery" device.

"Gates and his colleagues asked Langer if it were feasible to create birth control that a woman could turn on and off and use for many years," according to MIT Technology Review.

The former Microsoft Corp. kingpin and his wife, through their foundation, have supported the concept with more than $4.5-million in grants, according to other reports.

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Coutu profit falls
Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc.'s first-quarter profit fell sharply compared to a year ago when it realized gains from divesting its interest in U.S. drugstore giant Rite Aid.

First-quarter profit was $54.1-million or 29 cents per share, compared with $108.6-million or 51 cents in the year-earlier period, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports.

Longueuil, Que.-based Jean Coutu said the decrease in profit is due to a gain of $54.4-million booked in the first quarter of fiscal 2014.

Analysts had been expecting first-quarter earnings per share of 30 cents.

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