Archive | Canadian Politics

Toronto Housing Market 25 year Appreciation only 3.4% per year!

Posted on 24 October 2013 by admin

By Lachman Balani


No cause for alarm! Toronto real estate market still on strong legs!

Over the last few months many reports have come out corroborating the stability of the housing market in Toronto and Canada wide. Some even point out that the plunge of 21% in housing starts in August that negated the effects of the huge jump in starts in July only further cements that future supply will be contained as the trend in the value of building permits has become relatively flat since the beginning of 2013.

Sales in August and September have been hectic with this year’s sales up 21% and 30% respectively each month over last year. Prices average higher than last year. There has been no crash as forecast strongly by Capital Economics and a few others. The Toronto real estate market overall is hale and hearty.

The government’s tightening of the mortgage rules last July would not toll the death knell for the Toronto real estate market nor will the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) recent announcement that it will limit insurance of home mortgages. TD economist Diana Petramala, who specializes in the housing market, estimated rates could rise anywhere from 20 to 65 basis points, or the equivalent of 0.2% to 0.65% due to this announcement.

She noted that historically, this is a minor increase.

“Affordability will still remain in the housing market,” she said.

Which means more people will buy and there will be no crash in the immediate future.

The housing market will not crash in Toronto based on price, affordability and very cheap mortgage rates. But as CIBC chief economist points out in the face of increased mortgage rates: “Overall, the days of very cheap mortgages are going to be replaced by cheap mortgages.” In other words mortgage rates are still cheap by historical standards and so people will continue to buy.

However, let us look at the Toronto housing market from another price metric angle. 25 years ago (the amortization period of a mortgage at that time) the average home price in Toronto was $230,000(see table below from Toronto Real Estate Board) and today it is hovering about $530,000 (from news reports). This means the average home price has only appreciated about 3.4% per year, which by any standard is not excessive and there is no reason for a downward spiral given this scenario.

Let us examine it further. A couple who bought a home 25 years ago at $230,000 and paid 25% down (what was needed in those days for a conventional mortgage) took out a mortgage for $172,500 and gave $57,500 as down payment. Even though the rates were very high then, let us say that over the course of time they paid an average of 5% (very conservative estimate) on their mortgage leading to them paying a total of $358,500 ($230,000 plus interest of $128,500) for their home. Using a very linear calculation, as most people do, the couple says “Hey my home cost me $358,500 and now it is $530,000 – that means an increase of 1.60% per year- like that’s below inflation- so why is anybody saying the Toronto real estate market is overpriced. It’s under priced! What about a return on our investment of say even a puny 3%? Nothing?! And what if we include kitchen upgrades, roof repairs, window replacements, several coats of paint every 6-7 years, redoing basement? Overpriced our home?!?! Heck no, it’s highly underpriced!!!”

As seen in the above simple example- most home owners do not think their homes have increased that much in value as they should have. Their homes have increased in value by less than the inflation rate and there has been no real return on investment- in fact it is a negative return on investment!.

Thus the housing market will still keep marching on.

Table below taken from Toronto Real Estate Board website:

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Posted on 16 October 2013 by admin

MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough-Rouge River) announced that she will run for re-election in the new riding of Scarborough North. Her current riding of Scarborough-Rouge River will be divided in the next federal election into Scarborough North and Scarborough-Rouge Park.

 “I have consulted with the community that I am so proud to represent, and have decided that I will run in Scarborough North” said Sitsabaiesan. “Scarborough North is two thirds of my current riding, so looking to the future I want to continue serving as many of the people who put their faith in me in the 2011 election as possible. Until the next election, the residents of Scarborough-Rouge River can rely on me to continue to defend their interests here and in Parliament.”

 Sitsabaiesan made the announcement while visiting a local Hindu Temple in Scarborough.

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Cable TV subscribers will soon pay for channels they choose: minister

Posted on 16 October 2013 by admin

A prominent cabinet minister says the federal government plans to force cable and satellite TV providers to offer consumers so-called pick-and-pay services.

Industry Minister James Moore says the move will be part of a consumer-first agenda to be unveiled by the Conservatives in this week’s Speech from the Throne.

Moore says consumers are frustrated over being forced to buy large bundles of channels they don’t want when they sign up for satellite and cable TV services.

The minister notes that companies such as Videotron in Quebec are already moving in that direction, largely because consumers are shying away from traditional TV and are instead watching programming over the Internet.

Moore says there’s no reason why television service providers can’t offer consumers the ability to pick and choose the channels they want.

He says the throne speech will also lay out the government’s plans for ensuring air travellers are somehow compensated when they are inconvenienced by airline overbooking.

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Heroin and Other Dangerous Drugs Banned from Health Canada’s Special Access Programme

Posted on 10 October 2013 by admin

Joined by doctors, health experts, Canadians who have battled with addiction, as well as representatives from Canada’s diverse cultural communities, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, fulfilled her promise from September 20 to protect the integrity of the Special Access Programme by removing doctors’ ability to prescribe dangerous drugs such as heroin and cocaine to their patients through the Special Access Programme.

 “This program provides emergency access to life-saving medicine. It was never intended to provide heroin to addicts, and we are taking action to close this loophole,” said Minister Ambrose. “Our Government understands that dangerous drugs like heroin have a horrible impact on Canadian families and their communities. We will continue to support drug treatment and recovery programs that work to get Canadians off drugs in a safe way.”

The new regulations, which come into effect immediately, will ensure that products containing heroin, cocaine or other restricted drugs (for example LSD, ecstasy, ‘magic’ mushrooms, and ‘bath salts’) will no longer be eligible for authorization for individual patient use under the SAP.

“As one of an estimated 4.6 million Canadians living in long term recovery from the disease of addiction I can tell you that recovery works,” said Marshall Smith, Manager of Community Relations for the Cedars at Cobble Hill Addiction Treatment Centre on Vancouver Island. “We must keep recovery first rejecting the notion that anyone is hopeless, I applaud the government for their strong stance supporting treatment. Recovery works from the inside out, not the outside in”.

Health Canada remains committed to the National Anti-Drug Strategy (NADS), which aims to reduce and prevent the use of illicit drugs across the country. The three pillars of the strategy are prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

“Heroin treatment is unsafe and very expensive, and does not address the treatment needs of the tens of thousands of Canadians who are addicted to prescription opioids,” said Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of Toronto, Meldon Kahan. “Addiction treatments such as methadone, buprenorphine and morphine could dramatically reduce these harms, it is my hope that addiction physicians, policy makers and the public will not be distracted by flawed treatment approaches and will instead focus on the real needs of opioid-addicted patients and the communities they live in.”

Under the new regulations, products containing heroin or unauthorized forms of cocaine or other restricted drugs (for example LSD, ecstasy, and ‘magic’ mushrooms) will not be eligible for authorization for individual patient use under the SAP. Doctors will not be able to prescribe heroin or other restricted drugs. Other approved treatments for addictions treatment, including methadone, are not affected by this change.

“As a community leader, I see the effects drugs have on our youth,” said Dr. Jai Li, President of the Ontario Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine Examination Committee, and Member of the Government of Canada Advisory Council on Traditional Chinese Medicine. “I support treating addiction and recovery and applaud the Government for their efforts.”

The new regulations will come into effect immediately.

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Harper Government announces coming into force of Canada–India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

Posted on 02 October 2013 by admin

The Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, and the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), announced the coming into force of the Canada–India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. This coming into force results from Canada’s vigorous efforts to reach new markets for energy exports, creating opportunities for Canadian business. The Canadian nuclear industry currently supports 30,000 direct jobs across our country.

“This milestone represents a significant step in diversifying markets for our energy exports, thereby creating jobs and solidifying Canada’s long-term prosperity,” said Minister Oliver. “The agreement with India will permit Canadian companies to reach an important new market for Canadian uranium, nuclear technology, services and equipment.”

Minister Oliver made this announcement following a meeting with India’s Minister of External Affairs, Salman Khurshid, on Monday, September 23, in Ottawa. He visited India in October 2012 to promote Canadian exports to India, the fourth-largest energy consumer in the world. India is expected to more than triple its electricity supply within the next 25 years.

Minister Oliver and Minister of State Yelich previously announced that the Appropriate Arrangement pursuant to the Canada–India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement had been signed by both countries at an announcement in Saskatoon on April 8, 2013.

“I am very pleased that this crucial Agreement is now in force,” said Minister Yelich. “It is important for the Province of Saskatchewan — one of the world’s largest producers of uranium — and can only solidify Canada’s already strong relationship with India.”

The Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and the supporting Appropriate Arrangement will allow Canadian companies to export nuclear items for peaceful uses, in accordance with Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation policy. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Canada’s independent nuclear regulator, will be responsible for implementation, ensuring that Canadian exports only go to facilities in India under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

With the coming into force of this Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, the Government reaffirms its commitment to support and grow Canada’s nuclear industry, which generates about $5 billion in electricity annually and approximately $1 billion a year in uranium exports.

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Helping Youth in Brampton Find Good Jobs

Posted on 02 October 2013 by admin

Ontario Government Launches Youth Employment Fund This Fall

Ontario is helping young people in Brampton get job skills and experience with a new Youth Employment Fund that helps employers offer four- to six-month job and training placements for young people seeking work.

“The new Ontario government is helping young people in Brampton get essential work experience that will give them the confidence, track record and skills they need to help them find work and start careers. Helping youth today will result in greater economic strength tomorrow,” stated Vic Dhillon, MPP Brampton West.

Ontario will provide up to $7,800 to cover a range of supports and services for each eligible young worker under the fund. That includes up to $6,800 to help cover wages and training costs, and up to $1,000 to help young workers pay for job-related costs like tools and transportation to work.

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Questionable and unethical business practices still exist at Ornge

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Despite a new Board of Directors, a new CEO and an overhaul of its management team, it seems little has changed in the executive suites at Ornge. That at least is the opinion of one Ornge’s largest suppliers of aviation services.

 Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees called on the Minister of Health to order an independent investigation into allegations of “questionable and unethical business practices” at the embattled Ornge Air Ambulance system.

Klees quoted from the sworn testimony of Rick Horwath, President of Air Bravo who appeared as a witness before the Public Accounts Committee last Wednesday.

Air Bravo is the largest supplier of fixed wing air ambulance services to Ornge and is one of five private sector aviation companies that operate under Standing Agreements with Ornge.

Among the concerns the Air Bravo executive registered with the committee, were allegations of inherent conflicts of interest that included coercion by senior Ornge executives of proponents during the bidding process for contracts, a full time Ornge employee authoring a competitor’s RFP, confidential emails between Ornge Chief Operating Officer Rob Giguere and Air Bravo leaked to competitors by the Ornge legal team and the lack of direct oversight by Ornge of its contracted aviation services.

 ”Not only is there no direct oversight by Ornge of the aviation services there is no requirement for proponents to prove they have the financial capacity to deliver on their contractual obligations.”

Klees insists that nothing but an independent investigation into these allegations are acceptable, given the history of scandal at Ornge.

“The very fact that we were told under sworn testimony that the new Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer and the company’s legal department all have knowledge of these alleged improprieties, the only responsible thing for the minister to do is to order an independent investigation.”

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Like our fellow Canadians elsewhere, we Quebecers are open, positive people

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Justin Trudeau


Quebecers and all Canadians have built a society that is the envy of the world because we have succeeded in making diversity an immeasurable asset. No Quebecer should be disqualified from a job in a public institution on the pretext that they pose a threat to state secularism.

Premier Marois unveiled her government’s much anticipated plan to legislate values in Quebec. As I have said since the PQ first announced this plan back in the 2012 election campaign, I categorically oppose it. Like our fellow Canadians elsewhere, we Quebecers are open, positive people. We believe in defending one another’s freedoms, not in restricting them.

 I have great faith in the people of my home province. My message to Canadians from outside Quebec is a simple and important one: so should you. Resist the temptation to indulge in easy stereotypes and reactive characterizations of Quebec and Quebecers. The PQ government’s plan is divisive, negative and emotional. It is designed to be that way.

 Quebecers will reject it.

 I got into public life in part because I believed that politics can be done differently. It could be less petty and more transparent. Candour, especially during tense moments like this one, is risky but necessary. This summer, I met with Premier Marois and we discussed this issue openly and frankly. I said to her what I believe to be true: her plan does not accurately reflect Quebec. It would attack what we hold most dear: our right and our freedom as individuals to choose, and to express our beliefs within the context of universally recognized democratic laws and norms. There is no question that our government and our institutions must be neutral and secular; church and state must be separate. But by what logic should we restrict the freedom of some Quebecers to express their religious beliefs? Simply because they are not shared by the majority? This is a dangerous road, not just for religious minorities within Quebec, but for all minorities, everywhere in Canada.

 The PQ’s plan divides the people of Quebec to solve a problem that does not exist. It creates two classes of citizens – those who hold religious beliefs and those who do not – under the pretext of secularizing a state that is already secular.

These universal rights and freedoms were entrenched in the Constitution because we believe they are at the core of our commitment to liberal, constitutional democracy. We enshrined them in both the Canadian and Quebec Charters precisely because they transcend — and sometimes need to be shielded from — the values of the government of the day.

 Quebecers and all Canadians have built a society that is the envy of the world because we have succeeded in making diversity an immeasurable asset. No Quebecer should be disqualified from a job in a public institution on the pretext that they pose a threat to state secularism. A Sikh or Jewish man, a Muslim woman or a woman who wants to wear a crucifix larger than the Parti Québécois dictates, should not have to choose between their religious belief and their economic well being. These symbols do not detract from our great pride as French Quebecers. They do not diminish our ability to live and flourish in French, nor do they prevent us from passing onto our children the extraordinary richness of our language and our culture.

In the end, the PQ plan does not represent who we are. As René Lévesque himself said, we will be judged according to how we treat our minorities. The PQ government’s plan, if adopted, would see history render a very harsh verdict indeed.

Quebecers and Canadians deserve better than this. I have confidence that Quebecers will demand better than this, and so should you.

Justin Trudeau is the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. 

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New individuals added to the “Wanted by the CBSA” list

Posted on 18 September 2013 by admin

The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, today announced eight new additions to the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) Wanted by the CBSA list.

 “Since its inception in July of 2011, the “Wanted by the CBSA” program has proven to be effective in its goal of locating individuals who are inCanada illegally and who have hidden from the CBSA,” said Minister Blaney. “The successful location of almost 40 per cent of the cases posted to the list demonstrates not only the program’s usefulness, but also the level of engagement of the public in protecting our borders.”

 To obtain further assistance from the public, eight new profiles have been added to the “Wanted by the CBSA” web page. These new additions are all inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), and a Canada-wide warrant for their arrest has been issued as they have both failed to comply with IRPA and have absconded before their removal could take place.

 “I am confident that the past successes of the “Wanted by the CBSA” program will continue,” said Minister Blaney. “This program is an excellent example of how ongoing cooperation between the public and domestic and international law enforcement can contribute to safer communities.”

 Members of the public should not take action to apprehend the individuals listed on the CBSA Web site. Any information on the whereabouts of these individuals should be reported to the CBSA Border Watch Toll-free Line at 1-888-502-9060.

 To date, as a result of the “Wanted by the CBSA” program, Canadians have assisted in locating 46 individuals in Canada, of which 39 have been removed. Additionally, nine individuals have been located abroad.

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Posted on 12 September 2013 by admin

Canada has taken in only 9 refugees in 2013 from war-torn Syria

As the humanitarian tragedy grows, the Conservative government must live up to its promises to speed up the process of reuniting Syrians families.

“Canada has made some contributions to international relief efforts, but we can see a lot more needs to be done,” said Official Opposition critic for Foreign Affairs Paul Dewar. “Syrian Canadians are looking to help their families come to Canada and the government must live up to its commitment to help.”

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that the Syrian refugee population has doubled over the past six months to two million people, with a further 4.25 million people forced to relocate within Syria. It is the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since the Rwandan genocide some twenty years ago.

“For some time the NDP has been shining a light on the urgency of this humanitarian crisis – and the government had promised to act. Unfortunately, the Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander has remained silent,” said NDP Citizenship and Immigration critic Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe. “On helping refugees displaced by this conflict, there is no reason to wait for other countries – Canada can act right now.”

In July, the Canadian government committed to accepting up to 1,300 Syrian refugees – and yet according to media reports Canada has taken in only nine new Syrian refugees since the beginning of the year.


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