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Canada housing crisis: Feds stick by immigration plan




The alarm bells are becoming bull horns: Canada’s housing supply isn’t keeping up with the rapid rate of population growth.

Academics, commercial banks and policy thinkers have all been warning the federal government that the pace of population growth, facilitated by immigration, is making the housing crisis worse.

“The primary cause for (the) housing affordability challenge in Canada is our inability to build more housing that is in line with the increase in population,” said Murtaza Haider, a professor of data science and real estate management at Toronto Metropolitan University.


A TD report released in late July also warned that “continuing with a high-growth immigration strategy could widen the housing shortfall by about a half-million units within just two years.”

But the Liberals are doubling down on their commitment to bring more people into the country, arguing that Canada needs high immigration to support the economy and build the homes it desperately needs.

“Looking at the (immigration) levels that we have recently approved as a cabinet (and) as a government, we can’t afford currently to reduce those numbers,” Immigration Minister Marc Miller said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

That’s because Canada’s aging population risks straining public finances, he said, as health-care needs rise and the tax base shrinks.

A report by Statistics Canada published in April 2022 finds the country’s working population has never been older, with more than one in five people close to retirement.

At the same time, Canada’s fertility rate hit a record low of 1.4 children per woman in 2020.

The TD report, co-authored by the commercial bank’s chief economist Beata Caranci, notes that economists are the ones who have been warning of the economic consequences of Canada’s aging population.

“A ramp-up in skilled-based immigration offered a solution. Government policies have delivered, but now the question is whether the sudden swing in population has gone too far, too fast,” the report said.

The federal government’s latest immigration levels plan, released last fall, would see Canada welcome 500,000 immigrants annually by 2025.

In contrast, the immigration target for 2015 was under 300,000.

Although the half-million figure has caught considerable attention, it’s not just higher immigration targets that are driving the surge in population.

Canada is also experiencing a boom in the number of temporary residents who are coming to the country, which includes international students and temporary foreign workers.

In 2022, Canada’s population grew by more than one million people, a number that included 607,782 non-permanent residents and 437,180 immigrants.

Miller said in the interview that the federal government is open to reconsidering international student enrolments, particularly amid fraud concerns.

Earlier this year, hundreds of people were suspected of being caught in a fraud scheme that saw immigration agents issue fake acceptance letters to get students into Canada.

“There is fraud across the system that we are going to have to clamp down on,” Miller said.

The increased scrutiny of Canada’s immigration policies and population growth comes as the country faces a housing affordability crisis caused in large part by a shortage of homes.

Most experts agree that the root causes of this housing shortage are unrelated to immigration. Red tape and anti-development sentiment at the municipal level, for example, can lead to major delays in projects.

Federal tax incentives that helped spur purpose-built rental constructions were rolled back decades ago, leading to a massive shortage in rentals that has slowly built up over time.

Given these existing challenges, experts are concerned strong population growth will add fuel to the fire.

BMO published an analysis in May that estimated that for every one per cent of population growth, housing prices rise by three per cent.

The rebound of the Canadian real estate market this year also shows how immigration is helping to maintain demand for housing, despite decades-high interest rates.

“Strong population growth from immigration is adding both demand and supply to the economy: newcomers are helping to ease the shortage of workers while also boosting consumer spending and adding to demand for housing,” the central bank said after raising rates again in July.

Mike Moffatt, a housing expert and economist, said the federal government doesn’t necessarily need to change its immigration targets.

“But it does mean that they’re going to have to get very bold on housing,” said Moffatt, an assistant professor at the Ivey Business School at Western University in London, Ont.

For the federal Liberals, the relationship between population growth and housing prices jeopardizes public support for its immigration policies.

David Coletto, the CEO of Abacus Data, said polling shows Canadians are concerned about the impact immigration is having on the housing market.

“There’s a belief, anyways, that on the one hand, immigration is needed because we’re an aging population, because … we need people to do certain types of work that we don’t have sort of the domestic capacity for,” Coletto said.

“They also see the downside, which is putting further pressure on the housing market and pressure on health care.”

Miller said the federal government needs to carefully examine reports on housing and population growth, but he also raised concerns that some of the critiques are motivated by bigotry.

“The wave of populist, opportunist sentiment that does at times want to put all of society’s woes on the backs of immigrants — I think we need to call that out when we see it,” he said.

Immigration is also part of the solution to the housing crunch, Miller added. Construction is one of the industries where the labour shortage is most critical, and Miller argued that the people who are coming in can help build the new homes that are required to alleviate the crisis.

The federal government recently announced changes to the express entry system that would prioritize tradespeople for permanent residency.

Housing Minister Sean Fraser, who held the immigration portfolio before this summer’s cabinet shuffle, said the government is aware of the need to better align its housing and immigration policies.

“The things that we were working towards, that I expect will continue to be advanced under Mr. Miller’s watch, is the need to better tie our immigration policies to our housing and infrastructure strategies,” Fraser said in an interview.

“It certainly does require some deep thinking to figure out how and where we’re going to build the homes and grow the communities in a way that will mirror where people are moving to.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2023.



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'ET Canada' cancelled by Corus Entertainment, blames 'challenging' advertising market – CTV News



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Entertainment Tonight Canada to end after 18 seasons



A woman wearing a large pink dress holds a microphone and speaks to a camera while attending a red carpet event.
Cheryl Hickey, longtime host of ET Canada, speaks to the camera on the red carpet of the 2019 Canadian Country Music Awards at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. ET Canada will end on Oct. 6 after 18 seasons. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Canadian media company Corus Entertainment has announced it is ending flagship entertainment program Entertainment Tonight (ET) Canada after 18 seasons.

“The costs of producing a daily entertainment newsmagazine show in a challenging advertising environment have led to this decision,” read a statement posted on the company’s website on Wednesday.

“We recognize the impact this decision has on the dedicated team who have worked on the show and we thank them for their meaningful contributions over the years.”

The show’s final episode will air on Oct. 6, with reruns airing in the same time slot on Global TV until Oct. 31, a Corus spokesperson told CBC News.


The cancellation won’t impact Corus’s obligation to produce Canadian content under the rules set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the spokesperson said.

ET Canada’s website and social media platforms will also be shut down. The spokesperson declined to comment on how many people had been laid off as a result, but said the program’s hosts were impacted.

The network said it has no plans for another entertainment news show.


An hour-long, magazine-style show that focused on entertainment, celebrity, film and TV news, ET Canada began airing in 2005 on Global TV, which is owned by Corus Entertainment.

The program has been hosted by Canadian media personality Cheryl Hickey since its launch, with regular appearances by entertainment reporters, including Sangita Patel — a co-host since 2022 — plus Carlos Bustamante, Keshia Chanté and Morgan Hoffman.

The cancellation leaves ETalk, CTV’s weeknight show, as Canada’s lone major entertainment news program.

Andrea Grau, founder and CEO of entertainment publicity firm Touchwood PR, said ET Canada offered a Canadian perspective that made it stand out in the U.S.-dominated entertainment landscape.

“There was this great Entertainment Tonight brand that was going on in the U.S. — we all watched. And the idea of a Canadian arm of it was very special because it could give a different slant,” she said.

ET Canada’s demise comes during a major shift in the industry, she said, as publicists struggle to find entertainment outlets that can shine a spotlight on emerging Canadian artists and projects.

“Even though we share a language with the U.S. and we share pop culture, we are still Canadian and we have a different perspective,” Grau said, noting that ET Canada’s hosts were a mainstay on the U.S. press circuit.

“You see those relationships that have been built over the years of having Sangita [Patel] standing on a red carpet interviewing someone, or Cheryl Hickey interviewing someone. They’re recognizable to [celebrities] after all of these years, too,” she said. “They’ve created such a strong brand.”


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Canada just had its lowest number of births in 17 years. What’s behind it?



The number of babies born in Canada dropped to a 17-year-low last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a declining fertility rate, data shows.

A Statistics Canada report released Tuesday showed there were 351,679 births registered across the country in 2022, which was a five per cent decrease from the previous year. This was Canada’s sharpest drop recorded since 2005.

Before 2022, the lowest number of births recorded was in 2005, with 345,044 babies born nationwide.


While the number of births in all provinces and territories declined last year, Nova Scotia was the notable outlier with a 12.8 per cent increase in live births.

The biggest decrease was in Nunavut, with the number of births dropping 11.8 per cent compared with 2021.

Canada, like many other developed countries, has been seeing declining birth trends over the past several years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many people’s plans to have kids, said Kate Choi, an associate professor of sociology at Western University.

“Although the fertility decline was indeed part of a larger trend of fertility decreases that have been occurring in Canada, the magnitude of the decrease is larger than what we would have anticipated in the absence of COVID-19,” she told Global News in an interview.

Click to play video: 'Infertility: Shedding light on a common problem'

Infertility: Shedding light on a common problem

The high cost of living has magnified the size of the drop in births, Choi said.

“It’s very expensive to have children and right now, when everything is expensive, it’s very hard for young adults to be able to have the type of lifestyle that allows them to have children, which is contributing to delayed and forgone fertility,” she added.

It’s a concerning trend for Canada, according to Choi, who said decreasing birth rates have the potential to exacerbate population aging issues.

Canada is considered a low-fertility country and its fertility rate has been declining over the past decade.

The latest Statistics Canada data from 2021 reported a fertility rate of 1.44 children per woman that year — marking a slight increase following a steady decline since 2009.

The fertility rate is an estimate of the average number of live births a female can be expected to have in her lifetime, according to StatCan.

As some couples delay their plans to have kids for a variety of reasons, egg freezing and other fertility treatments are on the rise in Canada.

Click to play video: 'More IVF babies born after summer egg collection: study'

More IVF babies born after summer egg collection: study

Lifestyle changes and work decisions are contributing factors, with a shift toward smaller families, said Mark Rosenberg, an expert in geography and professor emeritus at Queen’s University.

“I think mainly the factors we should focus on are first and foremost women’s decisions around the labour force and delaying birth until they’re in their 30s,” he told Global News in an interview.

There is also an increasing number of younger people living in single-person households, Rosenberg added.

Despite the drop in births, Canada’s population has been growing at a “record-setting pace,” surpassing the milestone of 40 million people earlier this year, due to a focus on increasing immigration.

Meanwhile, the StatCan report Tuesday also showed a rise in the proportion of babies who were born with a low birth weight — less than 2,500 grams.

Seven per cent of all babies had a low birth weight in 2022 compared with 6.6 per cent the year before.

Babies with a low birth weight are at an increased risk of complications, such as inhibited growth and development and even death, according to StatCan.

“When we see higher rates of low birth weight babies or higher rates of babies that are born who are overweight, those are issues that we should be concerned about because they reflect on people’s health,” Rosenberg said.

— with files from Global News’ Katherine Ward


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