PRESS DIGEST- Canada-Jan 23

Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:52am EST

Jan 23 (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

* The number of people claiming refugee status in Canada reached what Ottawa calls a "historic low" in 2013 after it brought in changes to speed up the program by deterring applicants from safer countries. (link.reuters.com/wam36v)

* Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne said Wednesday he is "outraged" a laptop containing key information on 620,000 patients was stolen four months ago but only now brought to his department's attention. (link.reuters.com/xam36v)

Reports in the business section:

* The Bank of Canada's angst over low inflation sent the dollar into a nosedive, but Governor Stephen Poloz says a cheaper currency is simply the "icing on the cake" for an economy that will be driven by stronger U.S. growth. (link.reuters.com/zam36v)

NATIONAL POST

* Mayor Rob Ford says he suffered a "minor setback" on Monday, when he was captured clearly inebriated and hurling profanities about the chief of a police in a Rexdale restaurant, but maintains it is "completely a private matter." (link.reuters.com/dem36v)

* Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched a blistering assessment Wednesday of unrest in the Arab world saying the Syrian civil war has descended into a regional sectarian battle, Egypt is grappling with democracy, and Iran is still led by an "extremist" and "hateful" regime. (link.reuters.com/jem36v)

FINANCIAL POST

* Canada, struggling to emerge from a two-year slump brought on by weak exports, has swept past the U.S., Germany and Japan in a Bloomberg ranking of the best countries for doing business. (link.reuters.com/hem36v)

* With expansion of the Canada Pension Plan on indefinite hold, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has tapped former prime minster Paul Martin to advise her government on creating a stand-alone pension alternative for the province. (link.reuters.com/kem36v) (Compiled by Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bangalore)