Archive | December, 2017

Inside details: All about Virat-Anushka’s mehendi, sangeet, wedding

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

Well, it is almost confirmed that two lovebirds dating strongly for a long time is going to be officially one. Yes, we are talking about Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma. Wedding bells is soon going to ring but not in India, Italy is the place where the couple will take wedding vows. On Thursday night, Anushka Sharma with her family including her Guruji headed to Italy for the nuptial.

To avoid media, Virat Kohli took off to Italy from Delhi with his family. The two families flew off to Italy on the same date and time but from different locations.

The much talked about wedding is going to take place on 12th December in Milan.

As per sources, they will first land in Tuscany, and a few pre-wedding functions are also likely to be held in Milan. Tuscany and Milan is 155 miles away and will take is just 38 minutes by air.

It is also strongly buzzed that the after the hush-hush wedding the newly married will host a grand wedding reception at J W Marriott (Juhu) on December 22. While J W Marriott refused to confirm the news, “We do not reveal any information. It’s confidential.”

Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma will register their marriage at the Bandra family court on January 4. Anushka has apparently already picked up the registration forms for that date.

Anushka Sharma’s neighbour also got an invitation from the wedding. Selected residents of Badrinath Tower at Versova, where the actor resides, have received invites for the nuptials. Anushka’s father Ajay Kumar Sharma has personally invited their neighbours.

A source reveals, “The star dad has made calls to some building folks, inviting them to the wedding that is slated for next week. As everyone cannot travel to Italy, he was keen to make them aware of the developments and seek blessings for the couple.” The source adds that the neighbours have been requested to keep things hush-hush considering the media attention surrounding the impending marriage.

It is to be recalled that Rani Mukherjee and Aditya Chopra also got married in Italy.

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Anil Kapoor to play Salman Khan’s father in Race 3

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

Anil Kapoor fans were an unhappy lot when the starcast of Race 3 was officially announced. After all, the maverick actor was missing and it was surely sad news for many since he rocked in the first two parts of Race. As Robert D’Costa aka RD, he was funny, suave and got to mouth some great one-liners.

But yesterday, Salman Khan made an announcement on Twitter that Anil Kapoor is now a part of Race 3. As expected, it was a pleasant surprise and immediately, the buzz for the film increased manifold. However, it seems that though Anil is a part of this slick franchise, he might not be playing the lovable and smart RD. Reports state that he will be playing leading actor Salman Khan’s father in the third instalment of the film! He will be playing the head of the family that Salman Khan is a part of. His character is integral to the plot.

Surprisingly, while Salman Khan is 51, Anil Kapoor is 60 and hence just nine years elder to him. It would be hence interesting to see Anil playing father to the superstar. Reportedly, the actor had reservations over the age gap and his character. Salman Khan however persuaded him to take up the role and what’s more, he was also offered a handsome remuneration.

As per the sources, the same role was also offered to Amitabh Bachchan. After mulling over it for a while, the senior actor had turned it down.

Race 3 producer Ramesh Taurani was asked to comment on these reports. He however only said that Anil Kapoor plays the head of the family and his role is not what he played in the earlier parts of Race. There was no comment from him on whether he plays Salman Khan’s father.

Race 3 also stars Jacqueline Fernandez, Daisy Shah, Saqib Saleem, Bobby Deol and Freddy Daruwala. It is directed by Remo D’Souza and it releases on Eid 2018.

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Canada and China still not ready to launch free trade talks

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang say the countries will continue with “exploratory” discussions that have been ongoing for more than a year

BEIJING—It was “candid and in-depth” for the Chinese, “wonderful and fruitful” for the Canadian side.

But at the end of a long afternoon of ceremony and discussions, Canadian and Chinese leaders emerged from an opulent meeting room in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People without the big announcement that was widely expected.

Canada and China are not launching free trade talks.

At least not now.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced Monday evening that the two countries would continue their “exploratory” talks on a trade deal.

Those discussions have been going on for more than a year, since Trudeau made his first official visit to China in September 2016.

In the days leading up to his current visit to Beijing, which began Monday with a pitch for tourism in Canada, expectations ramped up that Trudeau was travelling to the Chinese capital to confirm that Canada would be the first G7 country to pursue a free trade agreement with the world’s second-largest economy.

International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters en route to China that Canada had yet to decide whether to launch free trade talks, but that the country is looking to diversify its trading partners. Industry Minister Navdeep Bains, meanwhile, told Global News over the weekend that free trade with China is “the objective” for the government.

Instead, Trudeau and Li emerged from a bilateral meeting Monday with just three, less comprehensive deals: an agreement to expand trade in agriculture, an action plan on energy cooperation, and a memorandum of understanding for a joint learning initiative.

“Canada is deeply interested in further engagement and trade across the Pacific,” Trudeau told Li during their meeting, adding that the discussions they held on the matter were “wonderful and fruitful.”

Li said the countries were entering a “golden era” in their relationship and that their talks have been “candid and indepth.”

The sunny words were spoken after Trudeau and his Canadian entourage — which included Canada’s ambassador to Beijing and the ministers of industry, small business and tourism, industry, environment and international trade — were treated to a grand welcoming ceremony in the symbolic heart of Chinese political power.

With Canadian flags flapping beside the distinctive insignias of Red China along Tiananmen Square outside, a contingent of immaculately synchronized soldiers stood at attention before the Canadians. Trudeau and Li stood on a dais in the middle of a grand hall, as a military band played both countries’ national anthems.

Li then led Trudeau out of the hall and into an anteroom, where top officials held their bilateral meeting.

Li later told reporters at a joint press conference — in which the Chinese cancelled a plan to take questions from reporters — that China is “open” to the prospect of a free trade deal with Canada, and hailed the agreements the countries had reached so far.

“We see tremendous potential in such cooperation,” Li said.

Trudeau said that he is “pleased” that exploratory talks on free trade will continue. He said greater market access to China’s 1.3 billion consumers would be good for Canadian business, and that Canada needs to adjust to the “shifting” global trade landscape.

“We believe that done properly a trade agreement would benefit both countries, creating jobs, strengthening the middle class, and growing our economies,” Trudeau said, describing Canada’s ambition for a “progressive” trade deal that would include chapters on gender, labour standards and the environment.

Late Monday evening, Trudeau held his own press conference at the swank Four Seasons hotel in central Beijing. The prime minister called a potential trade deal with China “a big thing” that needs to be done responsibly. He said China is “open” to Canada’s vision of “progressive” trade, but that “China is very aware” starting trade discussions with a G7 country would be a “big precedent.”

Trudeau added that “there wasn’t one issue” that held back an agreement to launch talks Monday.

“We both are very much in agreement that we need to get this right and move forward at the proper pace,” he said.

The Trudeau Liberals have made doubling trade with China a goal for the Canadian government. Bilateral trade was worth $85 billion in 2016 — with Canada in a $43 billion trade deficit — while there was $34.6 billion in two-way foreign direct investment.

After more than a year of exploratory talks on launching free trade negotiations, as well as country-wide public consultations on the matter, many felt Canada was on the cusp of formally starting talks this week.

Business groups representing some of Canada’s top export products to China, including mining and agriculture, said this week that one of the prime benefits of a trade agreement would be to create a sense of stability for Canadian firms and industries doing business in China.

“The potential is there given the market dynamics, and the fact that Canada is a world-leading mining jurisdiction, and China has a significant appetite for our materials,” said Brendan Marshall, vice president of economic affairs at the Mining Association of Canada.

“The question is: Are we willing to create a greater level of predictability and therefore business confidence?”

But no trade agreement would be worthwhile without creating a reliable dispute resolution mechanism or guarantees that its stipulations would be upheld, said John Manley, a former Liberal cabinet minister who is now the president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada.

“The trouble always with China is they’ll sign agreements, but will they respect them? Enforceability is going to be one of the factors by which we judge whether we’ve got something worthwhile,” Manley said.

Not everyone is keen on free trade with China, though. Human rights groups sent an open letter to Trudeau last week that called on him to place concerns about restricted political freedoms and imprisoned Canadians over the push for trade talks.

Others, such as the United Steelworkers union, have voiced worry that fewer barriers to trade could allow China’s state-owned companies to flood the Canadian market and wipe out businesses with excess production of goods like steel.

The lingering question of trade with China also adds to the list of potentially imperilled commercial agreements for the Liberal government. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement, while talks on reviving the deal on the Trans Pacific Partnership — a trade agreement between 11 countries in Asia and the Americas, excluding China and the U.S. — faltered last month during a summit in Vietnam.

Trudeau continues his visit in China on Tuesday, when he is set to speak with Canadian and Chinese business executives before attending a private dinner with President Xi Jinping.

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Wynne says PC Leader Patrick Brown’s hope of finding painless cuts is ‘nonsense’

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Premier Kathleen Wynne warns the Tory platform will mean cuts to services.

In the People’s Republic of China, Premier Kathleen Wynne is seeing red over the Progressive Conservative People’s Guarantee manifesto.

As in red ink — and blood on the floor from anticipated budget cuts.

Speaking to the Star from Nanjing — one stop on her two-week trade mission to China, Hong Kong and Vietnam — she was incredulous about Tory Leader Patrick Brown’s campaign platform unveiled Saturday.

“We’ve been waiting for quite awhile to see something substantial come out of Brown and the Conservatives. So we’ve seen those now and the thing that jumps out at me is the pretty serious cuts,” Wynne said Tuesday.

“We’re the leanest per-capita program spending government in the country,” said the premier, who has read the Tories’ 78-page platform.

“So to suggest that there’s this bloated government and you can come in and slash $12 billion and nobody will feel pain is nonsense,” she said.

“He has to be held to account on this.”

That’s a reference to the Brown’s pledge to cut income taxes, eliminate the cap-and-trade climate change plan that brings in $1.9 billion annually, and conduct a “value-for-money” audit to find $6.1 billion in savings across government over three years if elected June 7.

 “I mean ‘efficiencies’ — that’s the language that they use — and in my experience, ‘efficiencies’ has always been code for ‘cuts’ for Conservatives,” said Wynne.

“Conservative leader after Conservative leader has talked about efficiencies so we’re looking at . . . a scale of $12 billion. In reality, it would be impossible to realize that kind of cut without cutting education and health care in some way.”

Campaigning at a Scarborough manufacturing plant, Brown insisted that “every Ontarian is going to pay less” under his People’s Guarantee plan, which will also bolster services.

“Under Kathleen Wynne, you work harder, you pay more, and you get less. This is not right and this is not fair.”

He is promising to reduce hydro rates by 12 per cent, invest $5 billion in a TTC subway network that will be uploaded to the province, reduce middle-class provincial income tax rates by 22.5 per cent, and enable parents to write off up to 75 per cent of child-care costs while boosting the number of daycare spots by 100,000.

Wynne admitted some aspects of the “People’s Guarantee” seem to be cribbed from her governing Liberals.

“It’s great that they have now come around to acknowledging that they agree with our Fair Hydro Plan because, I mean, they want to add to that,” she said, referring to the Liberals’ 25 per cent reduction in electricity rates that the Tories voted against in the Legislature.

“The 100,000 child-care spaces, I mean, we’re implementing that, so that’s great that they agree with that. It’s not an additional 100,000 child-care spaces. They’re basically just doing what we’re already doing.”

As for the Tories’ plan to return Ontario to deficit next year — with a $2.8 billion shortfall — Wynne, who is projecting budget surpluses for the next few years, was gobsmacked.

“I’m sure there was a lively internal conversation about that — that’s for sure,” the premier said with a laugh, mindful of the concerns of fiscal conservatives.

“Starting to pay down the debt starts with balancing the budget — and keeping it in balance,” she said.

“This document is all about having it both ways or all ways: ‘so we’re going to run a deficit, we’re going to cut fat that’s not there, we’re going to start to pay down the debt.’ There are all sorts of inconsistencies in what he’s suggesting.”

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How Patrick Brown would change Toronto transit plans

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Progressive Conservative platform would alter subway plans, but continue Liberal policies on key transit projects.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown unveiled his party’s election platform last weekend, pledging to deliver “change that works for transit users.”

The policy document, dubbed the “People’s Guarantee,” makes nine promises to improve public transit. Some are sure to prove controversial, such as his proposals to upload part the TTC subway system to the province and revive Rob Ford-era plans for a Sheppard subway to Scarborough.

Despite the promise of “change” however, if elected next June the PCs would continue many of the key policies of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government, including a major expansion of GO Transit service and the construction of new light rail lines.

Why are the PCs promising to take over TTC subways?

Brown is proposing that the province take ownership of TTC tunnels, tracks and stations, as well as assume responsibility for building new lines.

But Queen’s Park would contract the operations of the subways back to the TTC and the city would keep all fare box revenue while maintaining “complete control” of day-to-day service.

The Tories say provincial ownership of the subway network would be more cost-effective for taxpayers. Because the province has the ability to amortize the cost of expensive projects and gradually pay them off over the life of the infrastructure, putting the subways on the province’s books would allow the government to “make a dollar go further,” said PC transportation critic Michael Harris. That would free up money for maintaining the existing network and building new routes.

It would also be expensive for the province: the TTC is predicting it needs to spend $1.6 billion over the next decade on subway facilities, track and signals.

On Monday, Mayor John Tory expressed reservations about the city giving up ownership of the subway, which is highly integrated with bus and streetcar lines.

“If you were in some way or any way take it apart, I think you’d have to analyze what the consequences are,” he said, suggesting the arrangement could damage the “integrity” of the transit system.

Where would the PCs build new subways?

The platform pledges $5 billion for subway construction. Almost $1 billion would go to relieving the city of paying its share of the Scarborough subway extension and the Tories would also cover $200 million in disputed costs for the project the Liberal government says the province isn’t obligated to pay.

In return, the Tories would ask the city to make a “significant financial investment” to extend the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. The line is unfunded and estimated to cost $1.7 billion.

The remainder of the subway money would be put toward up to three projects: the relief line, an extension of the Yonge subway into Richmond Hill, and reviving plans to connect the Sheppard subway to the Scarborough Town Centre.

Together the three projects would cost at least $15.7 billion. To help cover the cost, the party would ask the federal government to match its $5-billion commitment.

Harris wouldn’t say which of the three subways would be a priority, saying all of them “should be considered prime candidates for development.”

Last term city council voted against building the $3.5-billion Sheppard subway in a dramatic reversal against then-mayor Rob Ford. A city report determined at its busiest time the line would carry just 7,800 people per hour, well below the minimum threshold for requiring a subway. The city and province have endorsed plans for a Sheppard LRT instead, although the line has been repeatedly deferred.

Harris said the province should take another look at the Sheppard subway because “we need to show that transit in (Scarborough) is a priority.”

Liberal Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca charged Brown’s promise to build the Sheppard line “is not credible because the funds allocated fall far short of what’s needed.”

Would the PCs complete transit projects already underway?

The Tories would “fulfil the existing commitments” to complete LRT lines in Ottawa, Hamilton and Kitchener, as well as the Finch West line in Toronto.

The party would also complete the Liberals’ most expensive transit project — a $13.5-billion expansion of GO Transit service known as regional express rail (RER), under which GO trains would be electrified and run more frequently.

Brown would also move to harmonize GO and TTC fares to support Tory’s SmartTrack plan.

The People’s Guarantee pledges to complete a study for the proposed high-speed rail link between Toronto and Windsor, which the Liberals advanced earlier this year.

Would the PCs change Metrolinx?

The Tories have sharply criticized Metrolinx, the arms-length provincial agency in charge of transit for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, accusing the organization of bowing to Liberal political demands during projects like the launch of the Union Pearson Express. They have also condemned the agency for approving a new GO station in Del Duca’s riding even though internal reports recommended against it.

The PCs have no plans to reform Metrolinx however.

“Metrolinx has commonly been used for the political purposes of the Wynne Liberals,” Harris said. “This problem can only be solved by removing the Wynne Liberals from office.”

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College students missing entrance exams, apprenticeship hours

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Five-week long job action took its toll, opposition parties demand government help

Paralegal students at Toronto’s Centennial College will earn the required hours in time to write their accreditation exams — though things are not as clear for those at other institutions.

From career entrance testing to required hands-on training, Ontario college students have been left struggling to catch up after a five-week strike by faculty that has forced semesters to be extended to make up for lost time.

Centennial “is actively working on semester recovery planning” for those in the paralegal program, said Véronique Henry, who chairs the college’s centre for legal and administrative studies. She noted that the school’s weeklong break in October meant students missed fewer classes because of the job action.

“Depending on the length of the strike, strategies for the paralegal program may include scheduling classes in the evening and/or on weekends, as well as extending the semester end dates. These strategies will ensure that paralegal students have the opportunity to meet the instructional hour requirements for this program, and can then be permitted to apply to write the law society licensing exams.”

At Queen’s Park, however, New Democrat MPP and education critic Peggy Sattler warned she’s been hearing from frantic students who are unsure about their future after the government introduced back-to-work legislation to end the strike.

“We are now learning that because of the extended semester, some students wishing to write their paralegal entrance exam with the law society won’t be finished in time for the February exam sitting — putting students behind by at least six months,” Sattler said Thursday at the legislature.

“Given the fact that the Liberal government sat on the sidelines for five weeks and did nothing to help prevent or resolve the strike, is the premier working on a solution for these students?”

Sattler also said she’s worried about students in co-op programs and those with on-the-job training requirements that won’t be met.

The College Student Alliance said it has reached out to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development for answers.

Minister Deb Matthews — who noted the NDP delayed passage of the legislation that forced instructors back on the job — said “colleges are working very hard to make sure that students are able to successfully complete” their semester.

“We have been working with students throughout the strike and following the strike to make sure that we can be there to offer as much support as possible to get students back on track,” she also said.

The NDP has also criticized the government for its hardship fund — from monies saved by the colleges during the strike — as being inadequate to meet student needs. In a city like Toronto, the maximum $500 would not even cover rent, said Sattler.

Matthews said the student alliance is supportive of the fund — a first “in the history of post-secondary education strikes” — and the government’s efforts.

“This has been very, very difficult for students, for faculty members, for employers in the community who were looking forward to having those students working in their organizations,” Matthews said. “The strike was tough. It had a big impact. We’re doing everything we can to support students to get back into the classroom and back on track for their careers.”

During the strike by 12,000 faculty members, classes were cancelled for as many as 500,000 students starting Oct. 16, and resumed Nov. 21.

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Canadian mayors look to Ottawa for new partnerships

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Mayors of Canadian cities have won partnerships with Ottawa and provinces on housing and transit.

After big wins with Ottawa on transit and social housing funds, the mayors of Canada’s biggest cities want partnerships on mental health supports and fighting the opioid crisis.

Mayors John Tory of Toronto, Valérie Plante of Montreal and Gregor Robertson of Vancouver hopped off a new Toronto streetcar early Thursday to talk with reporters and look at the King St. transit-prioritizing pilot project.

The trio then strolled to the Front St. convention centre for a full day of closed-door meetings with 19 other mayors from across Canada.

Their Federation of Canadian Municipalities caucus has gained clout in recent years, amid international recognition of urbanization and the Trudeau government’s commitment to long-term partnerships with cities rather than the one-off federal pledges of the past.

“We’ve made huge progress in recent years, particularly thanks to the new federal government – the Trudeau government have been stronger partners on transit, on housing specifically,” Robertson said. “We’ve come to the table with resources too.”

But while they work to get money flowing on those two priorities, cities are looking for other challenges they can tackle with Ottawa and their respective provinces.

Tory said he asked that mental health be added to the mayors’ agenda because the issue affects all cities and encompasses homelessness and the need to operate shelters, substance abuse, policing and public health. “We need a partnership” with senior governments, he said.

The federal government also needs to co-ordinate a “pan-Canadian response,” to the overdose crisis, added Robertson, whose city is Ground Zero for Canada’s opioid epidemic.

In an interview after several of meetings, Robertson elaborated on the need.

“Public health questions loom large because vulnerable populations cluster in our cities because that’s where our services are,” he said.

“But without real, functional partnerships with the provinces and the feds, we’re on the receiving ends of those challenges. So we’re talking about ‘How do we position cities as partners for the next round of breakthroughs beyond housing and transit?’”

The mayors also debated how to make cities more financially self-sufficient, and less reliant on property taxes, so they don’t have to lean heavily on other governments, Robertson added.

Options include lobbying for a share of income or sales taxes, which grow with the economy and reward cities for innovation, he said, “but there isn’t a consensus for one tool that would work for all of the 22 mayors around the table.”

The Montreal mayor, elected earlier this month in an upset win over incumbent Denis Coderre, said she was eager to meet her mayoral colleagues and learn from them.

Elected on a pro-transit platform, Plante was enthusiastic about her ride on a Toronto streetcar.

“I’m pleased I was able to get in a streetcar just to see what are some of the solutions we can put together, because mobility is the key to social and economic developments in our city…” Plante said. “It’s fast. It’s comfortable.”

An aide to Plante, however, said her transit priority is a campaign promise to build a 21-kilometre extension of the city’s subway system.


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Below freezing temperatures expected to return mid-week

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

After a week of mild temperatures, cold weather will be back later this week with temperatures dipping down below zero.

Get your parkas and scarves back out. Environment Canada is forecasting flurries with the temperatures dipping below the freezing mark starting Wednesday.

The weather agency is calling for above seasonal temperatures to start off the week. Expect a mix of sun and cloud with a high of 10 C and a low of 8 C on Monday.

You’ll need your umbrella on Tuesday with rain and wind in the forecast. A high of 9 C is predicted, falling to 4 C in the afternoon. There’s a 30 percent chance of flurries with a low of -3 Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, the cold returns with the mercury only hitting 0 C. It will be a mix of sun and cloud with a 30 percent chance of flurries. Temperatures will dip down to -6 in the evening.

Thursday and Friday will be a mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent chance of flurries for Thursday and Friday as well. Temperatures will continue to hover around the freezing mark with a high of 1 C on Thursday and -2 C on Friday.

For TFC fans planning to attend the MLS Cup Final on Saturday, you better bundle up as the forecast suggests the high will only be -1 C, dipping down to -5 in the evening. It will be mainly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of flurries.

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CMHC homes in on shadow lenders as debt levels rise

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

The agency is concerned that the debt isn’t being adequately tracked and may increase risk of financial instability.

Canada’s housing agency is seeking more data on home loans from shadow lenders, amid concern rising levels of debt aren’t being adequately tracked and may increase the risk of financial instability.

Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. (CMHC) will seek data from participants in the securitization program on their uninsured conventional mortgage lending, said Evan Siddall, chief executive officer at the Ottawa-based agency. CMHC needs to “know what risk we are exposed to,” and so will use the reported information to decide if changes are needed to their rules, he said.

“We are concerned about increasing levels of riskier mortgage activity by non-federally-regulated financial institutions,” Siddall said in the text of a speech he gave in Montreal on Tuesday. “We have a responsibility to isolate sound, solvent institutions from the contagion that can erupt when a lender fails.”

Various levels of government recently introduced restrictions on mortgage lending to get a handle on what seemed like out-of-control increases in home prices. That’s pushing buyers who no longer qualify for insured home loans to take out mortgages with institutions that aren’t tracked by federal regulators.

CMHC is raising the alarm after lender Home Capital Group Inc.’s near-collapse this year called into question the stability of the country’s housing market.

Insured mortgages in the two most expensive housing markets are dropping, Siddall said. In Toronto, insured loans comprised 16 per cent of the market last year, compared to 27 per cent in 2010 and in Vancouver, those figures are 12 per cent and 20 per cent.

In addition, indicators of risk are rising for low-ratio mortgages — those where the buyer has staked at least 20 per cent of the purchase price up front, Siddall said. Some 27 per cent of borrowers who took out low-ratio mortgage in 2016 had a loan-to-income ratio higher than 450 per cent, up from 19 per cent in 2014, CMHC said.

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This holiday season give your child the gift of literacy

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Literacy has a profound impact on our lives. Children and teenagers who love to read and take good reading skills with them to school each day have an invaluable head start on career success and personal happiness. Those burdened by poor literacy are significantly more likely to struggle.

Canadians understand the power of strong reading skills to transform lives. A recent Environics survey exploring attitudes about literacy found nine-in-ten believe improving literacy skills will improve everyone’s quality of life, and 87 per cent think more needs to be done to improve literacy rates.

When asked about the negative outcomes of struggling with literacy:

•          86 per cent believe poor literacy hinders employment opportunities

•          76 per cent think it increases the likelihood of poverty,

•          40 per cent believe poor literacy rates are detrimental to physical health

Other studies clearly show the love of reading, not just the ability to read, is a huge predictor of school success. Conversely, children who struggle with literacy are up to four times more likely to drop out of high school.

The holiday season is a wonderful time for parents to encourage children and teenagers to read. By creating opportunities for reading, parents can spark excitement about reading and begin laying the all-important foundation for strong literacy skills.

“Learning to read fuels a child’s imagination,” says Stephen Faul, president of Frontier College, a national charitable literacy organization. “There is no more powerful way to expand horizons, improve self-confidence and spur creativity. Simple activities to get your kids reading can have a profound impact on their future success. One of the key lessons we’ve learned from providing literacy programs to thousands of people in need each year is the crucial importance of reading from a young age.”

Frontier College offers these tips get your kids reading this holiday season:

•       Establish a tradition by reading the same book each year around the holidays.

•       Think about what interests your children (start with their hobbies) and find materials to read aloud (i.e. magazines, flyers, and newspaper articles).

•       Encourage older children to read to younger children. Both develop their reading skills through this experience.

•       Visit your local library and let your child choose books and materials to bring home to read.

•       If you are on the road visiting family and friends, encourage children to read street signs.

•       If your family receives greeting cards, have your children read them aloud, or help them create their own personal greeting cards and write messages to family and friends.

•       Ask your children to help make a grocery list or read labels in stores.

•       Encourage your children to read recipes and help with the measuring and baking.

 For parents, the true magic of the holidays is creating family traditions and memories that last a life time and even impact future generations. Reading and storytelling traditions offer an easy and powerful way to strengthen the fabric that binds families together and increase the chances of future happiness and success.

This holiday season give the gift of literacy. Read to your child, give them a book and plant a seed.

To learn more visit


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