PRESS DIGEST-Canada-Jan 3

Thu Jan 3, 2013 10:43am GMT

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Jan 3 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

* A clash of privacy rights and safety concerns is coming to a head as one of Alberta's largest oil sands employers attempts to force thousands of its workers to submit to new random drug and alcohol tests. Arguments on the matter are now being heard in a labour arbitration hearing in Calgary. ()

* Parents should brace for more labour disruptions at Ontario's schools in 2013 after an open letter from the premier has the unions preparing for the education minister to impose new contracts.

The letter from Dalton McGuinty, which says the uncertainty in education cannot continue and points to a need to balance the budget, comes on the eve of an announcement by education minister Laurel Broten on the government's next steps scheduled for Thursday morning. ()

Reports in the business section:

* Residential real estate sales across Canada fell 12 percent on a year-over-year basis in November, and prices dipped almost 1 percent. Vancouver sales were down 29 percent and Toronto sales fell 16 percent. ()

NATIONAL POST

* As Alberta continues to feel the pinch of a deeply discounted bitumen price, it is perhaps no surprise the provincial government and oil companies are looking for an alternative to politically contentious pipelines to get crude to market.

The provincial government said on Monday that it is considering spending $10-million to study building a new railway to deliver landlocked oil to an Alaska port. ()

* Federal environment officials in Canada and the United States have cracked an alleged smuggling operation that saw scores of narwhal tusks from the Canadian Arctic illegally shipped across the New Brunswick-Maine border in the secret compartment of a trailer. ()

FINANCIAL POST

* New-York based Rosen Law Firm P.A has launched a class-action suit against Silvercorp Metals Inc and three of its senior executives, including Chief Executive Rui Feng.

They are accused of overstating financial results from the company's flagship Ying mine, causing investors to buy the stock at "artificially inflated and distorted" prices. ()

* The financial positions of Canadian pension plans improved at the close of 2012, but pension consultancy firm Mercer suggests it is too early to pop the champagne corks.

"After a devastating 2011, 2012 was not the bounce back year that pension plan sponsors had hoped for," said Manuel Monteiro, a partner in Mercer's Financial Strategy Group, adding that Mercer estimates only about one in 20 pension plans are fully funded. ()

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